Occurrences & Incidents January - February 2021
The glider had been taken to regional gliding site and rigged with the assistance of members from another visiting gliding club. A positive control check was undertaken, and the glider was then tied down. The following day while the pilot was preparing the aircraft, a member of the local club noticed that the tailplane was not properly locked in place and brought this to the attention of the pilot. The pilot locked and secured the tailplane.
The aircraft operator has since applied the markings in accordance with the Technical note and will take the following action:
1. Compile rigging notes with guidance for all club gliders that will be kept with the relevant trailer; and
2. Ensure members taking gliders away are current and competent at rigging and derigging the glider.
Wheels up landing
Following release from aerotow the pilot noticed the ASI appeared to be faulty and decided to join circuit for landing. Distracted by faulty ASI, the pilot did not perform their pre-landing checks and landed with the
It is likely the pilot had a general awareness of the inherent risks associated with distractions in the flying environment. However, like all humans, pilots are susceptible to becoming preoccupied and distracted with one task to the detriment of another task. As indicated in this report, a distraction can affect a pilot operating even a simple aircraft like a sailplane and can arise unexpectedly, during periods of high or low workload, or during any phase of flight. In essence, no pilot is immune to distraction. Because some interruptions and/or distractions may be subtle, the first priority is to recognise and identify them. Then, the pilot will need to re-establish situational awareness, i.e. Identify what they were doing, and where they were in the process when they were distracted. Determine what action you need to take to get back on track – prioritisation is key. Remember: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, and Manage.
10 -Jan-2021 VSA
Collision with terrain
Under investigation. During an aerotow launch and at about 700ft AGL, the towing combination flew through strong turbulence. The glider pilot, who was flying in the high tow position, reported that the glider initially climbed but then accelerated towards the tow plane resulting in a loop developing in the tow rope, which passed under the wing of the glider. The glider pilot released the rope to prevent breaking the weak link or potentially causing a ‘tug upset’. The glider pilot then attempted to climb in a thermal but abandoned this action as the glider was in the tow plane ‘climb out’ area. The pilot flew parallel with the operational runway in search of lift but only encountered sink. Realising he would not be able to get back to the airfield, the pilot selected a paddock alongside a road and conducted an outlanding. Upon touching down the pilot found the grass was higher than anticipated and after the glider had rolled about 30 to 40 meters a star picket was observed in close proximity. The pilot raised his arms to protect himself as the glider impacted the star picket and rolled through two wires of an electric fence concealed in the grass. The top wire passed over the glider’s canopy and broke on contacting the fin. The bottom wire snagged the ring on the TOST back-release and broke. The pilot was uninjured, but the glider suffered damage to the wing leading edge and undercarriage doors.
Astir CS 77
The pilot Launched at 11:45 on a planned task along with several other pilots. After approximately two hours the pilot was unable to find a climb and was forced to land in a paddock north of Kingaroy. The landing was at approximately 10 degrees relative to the ploughed furrows. On the initial touchdown the glider bounced. Upon touching down again the glider yawed to the left causing it to skid sideways before coming to rest. Following the landing the main tyre was found to be deflated and may have been in this state before landing due to a leaky fixed valve extension.
Discussion with the pilot and a review of the logged flight trace identified that the soaring flight was continued below normal circuit height, and that a proper evaluation of the outlanding paddock was not conducted. The result was a rushed low turn onto final, landing across the furrows causing the rough landing and minor damage to the undercarriage. The flat tyre may have contributed to the rough landing but is unlikely to be the main cause of the incident.
Corrective action / Recommendations
The instructor on duty spoke at length to the pilot about the necessity to terminate the soaring flight with sufficient height and time to conduct a proper inspection of landing fields and allow for a normal circuit. This was reinforced at a further briefing with all present on the day.
During a cross-country flight the pilot conducted an outlanding at a regional airport. The pilot elected to land on the grass between the runway lights and gable markers. During the landing roll the glider’s main wheel struck a small concrete structure sunken below runway strip level resulting in the gear collapsing.
The pilot advised they chose not to land on the runway to avoid wearing down the glider’s tail skid on the bitumen. While they assumed the grass verge was suitable for landing, it transpired that the area was unsuitable and the glider was substantially damaged. The pilot’s CFI emphasised that when outlanding the main objective should be to conduct a safe landing, and a properly prepared runway is preferable to an unknown surface.
This type of accident comes under the broad heading of convenience accidents, where pilots have modified their normal operating procedures, or abandoned accepted best practice, for no reason other than convenience. Good operating procedures and flying standards are developed over time and built on the experience of many pilots and many mistakes. Pilots should always be aware that even slight departures from standard accepted good practice can have severe consequences. There is no doubt that convenience can be a seductive force and very many pilots have been tempted into bad decisions and choices for no other reason.
25 - Jan - 2021 NSWGA
Duo Discus T
Collision with terrain
During a training flight an outlanding became inevitable over inhospitable terrain. The instructor, who was flying, selected the only suitable paddock that was situated between two hills and about 300 metres long. The instructor landed downwind and upon touchdown had to manoeuvre to avoid obstacles. During the ground roll the right wing hit a fallen tree causing the glider to ground loop and skid sideways into the boundary fence. The glider was substantially damaged, but the flight crew were uninjured.
The command pilot was a recently trained Level 1 Instructor operating under the supervision of the Club’s Duty Instructor. During a training flight the command pilot decided to fly cross-country to a town about 50kms South-East of the airfield and across hilly terrain. The command pilot did not brief for this exercise and did not have authorisation from the Duty Instructor to conduct a flight outside the training area. The command pilot, although assessed as competent to fly cross-country, was not experienced flying in hilly terrain. When about 23kms from the airfield the glider got low and the command pilot elected to return home. The glider descended below the glideslope and, although uncomfortable flying over the hilly terrain, the command pilot continued on a direct track to the airfield and did not consider diverting to fly over terrain more suitable for landing. When an outlanding became inevitable, the pilot was faced with conducting a landing in the best of several unsuitable paddocks. The pilot conducted three orbits of the selected paddock to determine the best way to approach and decided to make a downwind landing onto the 300-metre-long paddock due to high trees on the into-wind approach boundary. The command pilot reported flying through wind shear during the circuit and conducted a steep approach with full airbrake into the paddock. The glider touched down at speed and the command pilot manoeuvred to avoid obstacles while applying the wheel brake. During the landing roll the glider’s starboard wing struck a fallen tree and the glider rotated 180 degrees and skidded sideways into the boundary fence. The glider suffered substantial damage to the starboard wing, fuselage and rudder, but the flight crew were uninjured. In the subsequent debriefing with his CFI, the command pilot accepted that his flight management and decision-making skills were inadequate. The command pilot was counselled, and his cross-country privileges were withdrawn pending remedial training.
This incident provides a reminder to pilots to know their own limitations and those of the aircraft. This demonstrates the importance of thorough planning and preparation for every flight, of maintaining situational awareness, and by re-assessing when forced to deviate from the plan, such as when operating over unsuitable terrain..
While competing on day 3 of the Horsham Week gliding competition, the pilot commenced final glide at 2800ft AGL about 25 kms north of the airfield. The pilot’s flight computer had calculated the glider would arrive at the airfield at about 1200ft AGL (700ft above the predetermined safety height of 500ft AGL). The glide progressed without any periods of unusual sink or good lift, and the airfield was in clear view and looking to be sensibly within reach. However, as the glider crossed the finish line 5kms from the airfield reference point at around 500ft AGL, the pilot realised an outlanding would have to be made and began to jettison the water ballast and configure for landing. The pilot chose to perform a straight-ahead approach to land near the southern end of a large paddock that was about 2Kms north of the airfield. The glider touched down at speed and bounced several times. Towards the end of the ground roll the pilot decided to veer to the right to give himself more clearance to the fence ahead of him, at which point the undercarriage collapsed and the glider slid to a stop facing about 110 degrees to the right of the approach path. The starboard undercarriage door separated from its hinges, and a winglet fixing pin was bent.
Thermal heights for this day were around 3500 ft and most of the task was flown below 3000 ft. When the pilot commenced the final glide, he was confident of successfully completing the flight. Despite narrowing safety margins on the glide, the pilot remained optimistic that the glider would reach he airfield at a safe height. When it became obvious that the glider was not going to reach the airfield, the pilot was too low to conduct other than a straight-in approach and landing. The paddock selected was approximately one mile long and sloped down in the direction of travel, yet the pilot elected to land near the far end boundary where he felt the need to initiate a turn to avoid the boundary fence. Inspection of the landing area revealed five ground scars where the main wheel contacted the ground, each with a gap of four metres. The fifth mark was much wider than the other marks that is likely the point at which the undercarriage collapsed. The aircraft slid for a further nine metres to the right before coming to a stop about 75 metres from the boundary fence. Ground marks show that water ballast was still exiting the glider after it came to a stop. Subsequent inspection of the undercarriage system did not reveal any mechanical fault that would lead to a collapse, and the pilot believes he may not have locked it down correctly. The pilot is very experienced but had not flown for several months prior to the accident due to a period of medical unfitness and then the COVID-19 lockdown. His lack of currency and fixation on his flight computer to provide performance indicators and forecasts are contributory factors. The pilot’s experience flying from the site contributed to his complacency and willingness to conduct an outlanding from low height without performing a proper circuit.
For competition pilots the race to the finish is a high workload and dynamic situation. In such circumstances, being near the ground at a height where it is not possible to assess and check an available landing paddock is a high-risk situation that must be avoided. Human factors including decision biases, goal fixation and cognitive tunnelling in competition may lead to pilots eroding safety margins more than in normal non-competition flying. Being aware of the dangers of continuing into marginal circumstances, setting boundaries, having a sound knowledge of rules and procedures, disciplined adherence to minima and performance requirements, prioritisation of options, and planning to deal with potential situations will act as defences against unsafe conditions.