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All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at glidingaustralia.org/Log-In/log-in-soar.html. This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report at tinyurl.com/ltmko56

Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Occ 2

16-May-2021 vsa
Mosquito
Terrain Collision
What Happened
Under investigation. The pilot was on his first flight on type and flew beyond gliding range of the gliding airfield. A late decision was made to outland, but the selected paddock was uncultivated and covered in large tufts of grass and scattered surface rocks. The pilot landed along a ridgeline and had to conduct a ground loop to prevent collision with a post and wire fence. The fuselage suffered stress cracks aft of the cockpit and the starboard wing suffered damage where it struck rocks.

22-May-2021 NSWGA
Ventus CM
Doors/Canopies
What Happened
Shortly after becoming airborne during an aerotow launch the pilot heard a significant air leak and noticed that the canopy was not fully locked. A quick check revealed that while the rear locking pin was partially engaged, the forward pin was not. After releasing from tow, the pilot slowed the glider and was then able to fully engage both locking pins. The pilot decided to break off the flight and conducted a safe landing. Subsequent inspection found no defect with the operating mechanism. The glider’s canopy locking system employs two sliding pins, each driven by a rod connected to the actuating handle. The first three quarters of the handle movement locks the rear pin, and the remaining ¼ slides the rod to the front pin. The pilot suspects his pre-take-off checklist was interrupted when he became distracted by the wingtip runner connecting the tow rope to the glider’s release. The pilot stated that they should have diligently completed the checklist before having the rope attached.

22-May-2021 GQ
ASW20
Birdstrike
What Happened
As the pilot entered a thermal at about 3600ft, they sighted a juvenile wedge-tailed eagle about 1000ft below. During the climb and at about 4,600ft the glider was struck by the eagle. The pilot, who was scanning for another glider about to enter the thermal, did not see the eagle hit the glider but heard the thud and noticed feathers flying on the port side of the fuselage. The pilot conducted a control check and ascertained the glider was flying normally with no abnormality. The pilot continued to climb to gain enough heigh to glide back to the home airfield to check for damage. After a safe landing the pilot inspected the airframe and found the eagle had hit the port wing causing a localised minor indentation and some scratches in the paint on the upper surface of the wing. The glider was subsequently repaired and returned to service.

23-May-2021 GQ
Discus CS
Landing gear/Indication
What Happened
While conducting the annual post-maintenance flight the pilot pulled the undercarriage up, but it jammed halfway and could not be raised further nor lowered. The pilot landed with the undercarriage partially down, and the mainwheel retracted upon landing.
Analysis
Subsequent inspection identified the castellated nut on the wheel axle had been overtightened, which had a clamping effect on the articulated joint at the axle sufficient to prevent the undercarriage from being locked up or down. The tension was adjusted by backing-off the nut by one Castellation and the undercarriage was able to be operated normally. 

Occ


7-Jun-2021 WAGA
SZD-50-3 "Puchacz"
Control
What Happened
During and aerotow and at approximately 4000' (2920' AGL), the glider pilot climbed out of station and started to lift the tail of the tow plane. The tow pilot was about to activate the tow release when the glider pilot released from tow. Both aircraft landed safely, and a debriefing was held with the Duty Instructor.

Analysis
The flight was the pilot’s third solo after 17 dual training flights, having recently returned to gliding after a break of several years. The glider pilot reported that the tow plane climbed unexpectedly, then descended, at which point the glider unexpectedly climbed, resulting in the glider being significantly out of station above the tow plane. The glider pilot also reported that he had misidentified the tow release handle, and when he attempted to release from tow, he may have inadvertently pulled the wheel brake control, which is a similar shape to the release handle but a different colour. After realising that the tow cable had not released, the glider pilot then identified and operated the cable release control. The tow pilot, who is the club’s Tugmaster and an experienced sailplane pilot, advised he was about to release the glider when the tow rope was released by the glider pilot. The tow pilot reported that the air was particularly smooth, and that the combination had climbed well above the temperature inversion when the incident occurred. The tow pilot stated there was no environmental turbulence at any time during the launch. Investigation by the CFI concluded that the glider pilot probably operated what he thought was the release handle and most likely performed a climbing clearance turn to the right. By the time he realised that the cable had not released, he then identified and operated the actual release control, by which time the glider was most likely well above the tow plane and pulling the tail of the tow plane upwards and to the right. The CFI has asked his instructors to reinforce with their pilots the correct release procedure, including to “locate, identify and operate” the release handle and to verify that the rope has gone before commencing a clearing turn.

Safety Advice
Tug upsets are serious and have caused the deaths of a several tug pilots around the world. If the glider is allowed to climb rapidly behind the tug, it can very quickly become impossible to prevent it accelerating upwards in a slingshot action (rather like a winch launch) and tipping the tug over into a vertical dive. Once that has happened, the tow pilot will only be able to recover provided there is sufficient height. Downward displacement of the glider below the slipstream is quite acceptable, but upward displacements are much more critical. The glider pilot must release immediately if the glider is going high and the tendency cannot be controlled, or the pilot loses sight of the tug. The circumstances which make tug upsets more likely are:
• a light pilot flying close to the minimum cockpit weight;
• an inexperienced pilot - particularly wire launch pilots with little recent aerotow experience;
• glider with a belly or CG hook;
• an all-flying tailplane, or a glider with very light elevator forces;
• short rope; or
• turbulent conditions.

A vertical upset can also arise when the glider releases if the glider turns before the pilot has confirmed that the rope has separated. A tug upset is less likely to occur if the glider pilot avoids transitioning above or below the slipstream prior to release. If towing in low-tow, then the glider pilot should release from low-tow and vice versa. It is essential to check that, prior to release, the airspace is clear (a) to the right where the glider is just about to turn, and (b) to the left and below where the tug is just about to descend. The glider pilot must then ‘Locate, Identify, Operate’ the tow release. The release should not be operated until it has been positively located and identified as the one required. This eliminates any possibility of error in selection of the wrong control. This principle applies to all ancillary controls. When ready, the glider pilot will pull the release, and must observe the rope fall away before beginning their clearance turn to the right while simultaneously applying normal targeted scan. The release should be operated while the towrope is still under some tension, and the tug pilot, after feeling “release” should check that the glider has in fact released and begin a descending turn to the left. Post release actions should then be carried out and transition from launching pilot to soaring or landing pilot. For further information on tug upsets, please refer to Section 10.3 of the GFA Aerotowing Manual.

Occ 3

12-Jun-2021 GQ
ASW20 C
Incorrect configuration
What Happened
The glider took off with the airbrakes unlocked, and during the aerotow they deployed. The tow pilot signalled the glider pilot by waggling the rudder, and the glider pilot immediately closed the airbrakes. The flight continued uneventfully.
Analysis
The pilot advised that their take-off procedure in this flapped type glider was to start the initial aerotow ground roll in negative flap to achieve aileron control at low speed, and to then move the flaps to neutral once aileron control has been obtained and the airspeed has increased. In addition, and to prevent the glider over-running the tow rope, the pilot applies the wheel brake that is actuated by the application of full airbrakes. Once the slack in the rope has been taken up and the tow pilot has opened the throttle for launch, the glider pilot will then close and lock the airbrakes. On this occasion, the pilot closed but did not lock the airbrakes and they deployed early in the climb. The pilot stated “During the first phase of the launch, I changed to neutral flap (as per my normal procedure) and was trying to work out why the glider felt different when I saw the tug rudder waggle and immediately closed the airbrakes. Prior to this incident, I have had 555 flights in this glider, with 1560 hours without incident. I was too complacent on this occasion.” After the flight, the glider pilot discussed this incident with his CFI and expressed their embarrassment for the oversight. The tow pilot advised that they did not notice any difference with the glider on tow, having previously towed a heavy tow-seater. However, the tow pilot stated that, in line with their training, they looked in the mirror shorty after the combination became airborne and observed the red airbrakes were showing above the wings and immediately gave the rudder waggle signal.
Safety Advice
This very experienced pilot attributed this procedural lapse to complacency, which is one of the biggest enemies a pilot can face. Over time, flight related tasks can become rote actions performed without the necessary forethought to ensure we’re not acting out of habit. All pilots can be vulnerable to making errors if they become complacent by allowing habits and expectations to influence their actions. Taking actual steps to direct attention and methodically verify the status of an action can reduce your chances of making errors.

27-Jun-2021 GQ
Grob G103A Twin II Acro
Doors/Canopies
What Happened
During a winch launch and at about 500ft AGL, the pilot gave a too fast signal and the front canopy departed the aircraft. The command pilot released the cable and conducted a safe circuit and landing. The canopy was substantially damaged. The experienced command pilot advised “I closed the window and checked the canopy was locked before take-off. I recall moving my left arm back from the trim - not sure why now – and can only think loose clothing may have moved the canopy handle but I don’t remember any resistance”. The pilot’s CFI noted that the glider has a lever actioned canopy release, and it is possible the pilot may have caught his sleeve on the canopy release lever causing it to either become fully or partially unlocked. However, conditions on the day were gusty and this, coupled with the pilot giving the too fast signal and the canopy seals being worn, may have generated sufficient force to dislodge the canopy locking mechanism that resulted in the canopy departing the airframe.

31-Jul-2021 NSWGA
Club Libelle 205 - Tecnam P2002
Runway incursion
What Happened
A glider was being pushed onto the runway threshold for a launch when the crew sighted an aircraft established on final approach. The glider was immediately pushed back clear of the runway and the aircraft completed a normal landing and vacated the runway.
Analysis
The ground crew had been monitoring the radio for several minutes and was aware of other traffic in the vicinity. After visually clearing the airspace, the ground crew gave a broadcast on the CTAF advising they were entering the runway for a glider launch. In the absence of any further radio calls, the ground crew pushed the glider onto the runway while the tow plane held at the taxiway. While moving the glider onto the runway, the ground crew continued to monitor the airspace and observed a powered aircraft on final approach about one mile away. The glider was immediately pushed clear of the runway and the tow pilot was advised not to enter the runway. The powered aircraft landed and exited the runway, and no radio calls were heard. A member from the gliding club went to talk to the pilot of the powered aircraft but did not catch up with them. The aircraft was from the local aero club and a check of the radio identified it had been incorrectly set and was not on the aerodrome CTAF. The ground crew reported that the aircraft did not display landing lights on approach, which made it more difficult to sight.
Safety Advice
The concept of ‘see-and-avoid’ in conjunction with an active listening watch is the best defence against the risk of collision. However, alerted see-and-avoid is not always effective as it relies on pilots being on the correct frequency and understanding the transmitted information. In this case, the pilot of the powered aircraft did not recognise they had set the wrong frequency on the radio, and while the ground crew followed best practice, they still failed to observe the powered aircraft on approach – most likely because it was on a long shallow approach and its landing lights were not illuminated. CASA guidance in CAAP 166-1, under the heading ‘Related safety actions at non-controlled aerodromes’ at paragraph 2.2 states: “Pilots are encouraged to turn on external aircraft lights, where fitted, when in the vicinity of a non-controlled aerodrome. These lights should be kept on until the aircraft has landed and is clear of all runways.”

21-Aug-2021 gq
Hornet
Low Circuit
What Happened
The pilot joined circuit slightly lower than normal and, despite losing further height due to sinking air, did not modify their aiming point and turned onto final approach at a very low height.
Analysis
Returning to the airfield following a 150km cross-country flight, the pilot flew across the upwind extended centreline of the operational runway at about 1500ft AGL, and at a distance of about 2NMS, towards the dead side of the circuit. The pilot then turned onto the crosswind leg for RWY30, about 500 metres upwind at about 1400ft AGL. The glider flew through areas of strong sink and the pilot eventually turned onto the downwind leg at about 700ft AGL. The glider continued to fly through sinking air losing height, but the pilot maintained a standard circuit pattern. The base leg turn was made at a height of about 300ft AGL and the glider attained a wings level attitude at about 100ft AGL. The pilot’s CFI witnessed the landing and spoke with the pilot, who advised they wanted to land close to their car and tow gear. The CFI counselled the pilot and reiterated the advice in Operations Safety Bulletin (OSB) 01/14 ‘Circuit and Landing Advice’. To quote from this document, “The final turn must be conducted at a safe height, preferably not lower than 300ft AGL, and at the calculated approach speed, having regard to the local conditions. Good energy management is critical to safety, and to setting up a good stable approach from which a safe landing can be conducted. There is strong evidence to suggest that poor landings, or landings causing damage or injury, are much more likely to result if the final turn is executed too late, too close to the ground or with poor energy management, all of which make a stabilised approach and controlled landing much more difficult.”
Safety Advice
It has been noted over many years that a significant percentage of reported accidents and incidents have resulted from pilots modifying their normal operating procedures, or abandoning 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. There is no doubt that convenience can be a seductive force, but pilots must resist the temptation and recognise that even slight departures from standard accepted good practice can have severe consequences.

27-Aug-2021 waga
Piper PA-25-235
Near collision
What Happened
While on the base leg of the circuit the tug pilot heard two radio transmissions that were carrier wave only (no voice). Shortly after turning onto final approach, the tug pilot heard a radio transmission advising “I am immediately underneath you”. The tug pilot then noticed a glider on his left-hand side, and slightly behind and below. The tug pilot immediately selected full throttle, turned away from the glider and conducted a go-around procedure.

Analysis
Returning to the airfield following a local flight, the glider pilot made a broadcast on the CTAF that he was joining final 3NMs from the runway. At that time the tug was joining downwind, and its pilot heard the call. However, due to other radio traffic from airfields in the area broadcast area, the tug pilot did not hear the identity of the aerodrome called by the glider pilot and so did not associate it with his circuit. The tug pilot made a further radio call upon turning onto the base leg that was heard by the glider pilot, but the glider pilot did not hear what leg of the circuit was called and, because he could not see the tug, thought the tug was joining downwind. The glider then made a call on the CTAF to advise he was on final approach and number 1, but he did not receive an acknowledgement. Very shortly afterwards the glider pilot saw the tug on his left turning onto the base leg towards the glider and a little higher. The glider pilot reported being surprised by the tug’s position, as he had assumed it would be mid-downwind at that time. The glider pilot then lost sight of the tug as it went behind the glider, and called “Tug, I am just below you” three times – each call being a few seconds apart – but he did not hear a response. Shortly afterwards, he observed the tug turning away to the right about a wingspan to the right, and slightly above, the glider. The Tug pilot reported that he heard two carrier wave transmissions when on Base leg and then a voice call when the glider was very close to him on final approach, at which stage he took evasive action and conducted a go-around. A subsequent check of the radios in both aircraft’s proved they were serviceable, but while the FLARM in the glider was also serviceable and had the current firmware update, the unit in the tug had an unserviceable aerial. It was also identified that the tug FLARM did not have any audio warning. The tug FLARM was fixed, and a modification was made to provide an audio signal to the pilot’s headset.

Causal Factors:
• Several aerodromes in the area share the same frequency, and there was a lot of radio chatter heard from traffic at the other sites.
• As it was not a day conducive to cross-country flight, a glider joining final at 3NMs (5kms) was unusual.
• While the tug pilot heard an aircraft call final at 3NMs, he could not see an aircraft in that position and assumed it was an aircraft flying into another site. 
• The glider pilot was unsure of the tug’s position when he heard the first call and did not consider calling the tow pilot to confirm.
• Although both aircraft had working radios, the tug pilot did not receive a clear voice transmission from the glider pilot until the tug was near the glider.
• Both aircraft were fitted with FLARMs, but neither pilot received a collision alert as the unit in the tug was faulty.
Safety Advice
Subregulation 166C (1) of CAR requires that a broadcast be made to avoid the risk of collision if the aircraft is carrying a serviceable VHF radio and the pilot-in-command holds a radiotelephone qualification. When operating at busy uncontrolled airport, pilots are required to utilise alerted see-and-avoid procedures wherever possible in order to decrease the risk of collisions with other aircraft. Pilots, therefore, need to conduct an effective radio serviceability test and be able to recognise a possible radio failure. Pilots must be alert to the fact that they cannot assume that radio communication equipment is serviceable until two-way communications have been established. Pilots should take extra care to avoid any conflict by repeating broadcasts, or asking for confirmation from the other aircraft when unsure of its intentions or a message has not been understood. For further information, refer to CAAP 166-1 ‘Operations In the Vicinity of Non-Controlled Aerodromes’.

 

Occurrences & Incidents March - April 2021

All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at glidingaustralia.org/Log-In/log-in-soar.html. This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report at tinyurl.com/ltmko56
Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

6-Mar-2021 SAGA
Astir CS 77
Terrain Collisions
What Happened
During final approach, the pilot realised he had not lowered the undercarriage. The pilot changed hands on the control column, and inadvertently pushed forward on the stick coincident with lowering the wheel. The aircraft flew onto the ground heavily at approach speed. The pilot suffered back injury and the glider was substantially damaged. 
Analysis
The glider was launched by winch and upon release the pilot turned downwind to chase a thermal. After a minute or so the glider had lost altitude and the pilot broke off the flight and flew towards the circuit joining area. The pilot stated that he joined circuit lower than usual and only realised prior to touchdown that the undercarriage had not been lowered. He said that he swapped hands to move the undercarriage lever, located on the right side of the cockpit, into the lowered position. At that moment the glider pitched forward and struck the ground hard. A witness on the ground stated the glider “flared a little higher than normal and suddenly pitched forward and touched down with a puff of dust onto the rubble runway”. The witness claimed the glider had plenty of speed when it hit the ground, and that it skidded for 70 metres before coming to a stop. The witness initially thought the glider had landed with the undercarriage retracted, however it soon became apparent that the undercarriage was down and had collapsed on impact. The pilot exited the glider before ground crew arrived and complained of a very sore back. He was immobilized and transported to hospital by ambulance. Subsequent inspection of the glider revealed the impact had broken several bulkheads as well as the undercarriage system. Potential causal factors include breaking off the flight too late, increased workload and fixation on the landing area due to the low circuit, failure to configure the aircraft for landing before joining circuit and forgetting to complete the pre-landing checklist.

Safety Advice
Circuit and landing are high workload environments and pilots are encouraged to reduce their workload by configuring the aircraft for landing at an early stage. GFA training is to lower the undercarriage once the decision to land has been made and the undercarriage should be down before the circuit is joined. When the aircraft is configured early, the risk off a mishap from the omission of the pre-landing checklist, for whatever reason, will be reduced. Refer also to OSB 01/14 'Circuit and Landing Advice'. This accident also highlights the risk of injury to the pilot who attempts to lower the undercarriage in the late stages of the approach. Where the undercarriage control lever is situated on the starboards side of the cockpit, a pilot has to change hands on the control stick to lower the undercarriage. If the glider is not trimmed, it can tend to drop the nose during this action. Over the years there have been many accidents, including fatal, caused by the pilot changing hands to lower the undercarriage at low height. On the other hand, most gliders only suffer minor scratches from a well-conducted ‘wheel-up’ landing.

6-Mar-2021 SAGA
Astir CS 77
Terrain Collisions

What Happened
During final approach, the pilot realised he had not lowered the undercarriage. The pilot changed hands on the control column, and inadvertently pushed forward on the stick coincident with lowering the wheel. The aircraft flew onto the ground heavily at approach speed. The pilot suffered back injury and the glider was substantially damaged. 

Analysis
The glider was launched by winch and upon release the pilot turned downwind to chase a thermal. After a minute or so the glider had lost altitude and the pilot broke off the flight and flew towards the circuit joining area. The pilot stated that he joined circuit lower than usual and only realised prior to touchdown that the undercarriage had not been lowered. He said that he swapped hands to move the undercarriage lever, located on the right side of the cockpit, into the lowered position. At that moment the glider pitched forward and struck the ground hard. A witness on the ground stated the glider “flared a little higher than normal and suddenly pitched forward and touched down with a puff of dust onto the rubble runway”. The witness claimed the glider had plenty of speed when it hit the ground, and that it skidded for 70 metres before coming to a stop. The witness initially thought the glider had landed with the undercarriage retracted, however it soon became apparent that the undercarriage was down and had collapsed on impact. The pilot exited the glider before ground crew arrived and complained of a very sore back. He was immobilized and transported to hospital by ambulance. Subsequent inspection of the glider revealed the impact had broken several bulkheads as well as the undercarriage system. Potential causal factors include breaking off the flight too late, increased workload and fixation on the landing area due to the low circuit, failure to configure the aircraft for landing before joining circuit and forgetting to complete the pre-landing checklist.

Safety Advice
Circuit and landing are high workload environments and pilots are encouraged to reduce their workload by configuring the aircraft for landing at an early stage. GFA training is to lower the undercarriage once the decision to land has been made and the undercarriage should be down before the circuit is joined. When the aircraft is configured early, the risk off a mishap from the omission of the pre-landing checklist, for whatever reason, will be reduced. Refer also to OSB 01/14 'Circuit and Landing Advice'. This accident also highlights the risk of injury to the pilot who attempts to lower the undercarriage in the late stages of the approach. Where the undercarriage control lever is situated on the starboards side of the cockpit, a pilot has to change hands on the control stick to lower the undercarriage. If the glider is not trimmed, it can tend to drop the nose during this action. Over the years there have been many accidents, including fatal, caused by the pilot changing hands to lower the undercarriage at low height. On the other hand, most gliders only suffer minor scratches from a well-conducted ‘wheel-up’ landing.

7-Mar-2021 NSWGA
SZD 55-1
Landing gear/Indication

Occurences 1
What Happened
During an aerotow launch the tug accelerated for take-off prior to the slack being taken-up in the tow rope. The glider was thrust forward, and the mainwheel struck a large tussock of grass that bounced the glider prematurely into the air. When the glider touched down again the undercarriage partially retracted but the glider and tug became airborne and climbed away. The glider pilot, after lowering the glider’s undercarriage, maintained a routine and normal aero tow, separation, thermal flight, and subsequent uneventful landing.
Analysis
The undercarriage mechanism was subsequently examined, and it was identified that the port-side lower overlocking arm had been installed 180 degrees around. This prevented that side of the glider’s undercarriage leg from locking over centre. When the glider travelled across the rough ground, the undercarriage mechanism moved resulting in the starboard leg unlocking. The port-side lower overlocking arm was reinstalled correctly, returning the mechanism back to specification. 
Safety advice
Aviation safety relies heavily on maintenance. When it is not done correctly, it contributes to a significant proportion of aviation accidents and incidents. Some examples of maintenance errors are parts installed incorrectly, missing parts, and necessary checks not being performed. In comparison to many other threats to aviation safety, the mistakes of an airworthiness inspector can be more difficult to detect. Often times, these mistakes are present but not visible and have the potential to remain latent, affecting the safe operation of aircraft for longer periods of time. Inspectors are confronted with a set of human factors unique within aviation. Often times, they are working alone, in confined spaces, and in a variety of adverse temperature/humidity conditions. The work can be physically strenuous, yet it also requires attention to detail. Being aware of the human factors involved in maintenance can lead to improved quality. For further information, refer to section 3.2 of Basic Sailplane Engineering dealing with ‘Systemic and Human Factors’.

 

9-Mar-2021 VSA
LS 3-a
Outlanding
What Happened
During an aerotow from an outlanding paddock, the pilot lost directional control when the wing dropped into the stubble and he released from tow. 

Analysis
The pilot was competing in the Victorian State Championships and was on the last leg of an assigned area task. On nearing the ‘control’ turnpoint, and at a distance of about 15kms from the home airfield, an outlanding became inevitable. The pilot conducted a safe landing in a harvested paddock containing 30cm wheat stubble. After assessing the suitability of the paddock, the pilot contacted the competition organisers and arranged an aerotow retrieve. Due to an absence of ground crew, the pilot conducted a ‘wing down’ take-off behind the tow plane. After taking-up the slack in the rope, the tow plane accelerated for take-off creating a cloud of dust that reduced the glider pilot’s visibility. The drag of the wing on the ground caused the glider to veer 20 degrees to the right before the pilot got the wings level. While attempting to straighten the glider, the left wing contacted the ground and began to drag in the stubble. The pilot decided to release from tow and pushed the control column forward to keep the tail in the air as the glider conducted a ground loop. The glider was undamaged and subsequently retrieved by trailer.

Safety Advice
During an outlanding retrieve it is sometimes not possible to find a person to hold the wingtip for the launch. This necessitates a wing-down take-off, which is quite feasible but only if the surface is suitable. Any vegetation over about 10cm long should rule out a wing-down take-off, as the glider pilot will not be able to keep straight due to the drag of the wing in the grass. Even with a wing-tip holder, the pilot may still be in trouble. Modern gliders often drop wings some considerable time after the wingtip holder has let go, a function of their rather high angle of attack with the tail on the ground, combined with the spiral prop wash from the tow plane. If the wing drops into long stubble or grass, a ground loop is a certainty. Don’t take chances with long stubble or grass and don’t drop your guard just because it looks like it’s only in small patches. If in doubt, get the trailer.

20-Mar-2021 GQ
ASK 21
Low Circuit
What Happened
During circuit to land the glider passed through a heavy rain shower. The pilot flew too far downwind for the conditions and conducted a very low approach to landing..

Analysis
The pilot was conducting an Air Experience Flight in overcast conditions with occasional showers increasing in frequency. After been airborne for about 30 minutes the pilot decided the break off the flight and head back to the circuit for landing. The pilot observed local rain showers approaching the airfield from the South and extended the flight by a few minutes to allow the nearer shower to pass. The pilot joined circuit for RWY 04 with the windsock indicating a weak crosswind. Shortly after joining circuit for RWY 04 the Duty Instructor on the ground made a radio call to the pilot suggesting he consider landing on RWY 22, which was more into wind. The pilot decided to continue to land on RWY 04, but the glider flew into another rain shower and the pilot noticed the glider was drifting away from the runway. The pilot stated: “This confirmed my sense of drift, and so I adjusted to around a 45-degree angle toward the strip. By this time, we started to enter the influence of the shower and light rain started to fall. Another more urgent call came over the radio to modify my circuit. We were now roughly in line with the touch down point, so I curtailed the downwind leg and pointed us straight toward the airstrip.” On turning base the rain got heavier and the glider’s descent rate increased; possibly due to sink and rain contamination on the wings. The pilot flew a very low approach around the Club hangar, touched down on the runway threshold and came to rest about 300 meters down the runway. The CFI noted that the pilot committed himself to a landing on RWY 04 and did not realise how heavy the rain was or the effects it might have on the aerodynamics of the glider. 

Safety Advice
Many modern glider aerofoils are severely affected by rain, resulting in reduced performance and an increase in stall speed. This is because drops of rain on the wing disturb the airflow, thus reducing lift and changing the stall characteristics. Most manufacturers suggest adding at least 5 Knots to the approach speed to take into account the increased stall speed. Flying too fast with contaminated wings will severely reduce the glide performance and will lead to increased sink rates.

2-Apr-2021 VSA
Zephyrus
Hard landing


What Happened
An aerotow launch in slight tailwind conditions was aborted by the glider crew when it became apparent that the combination was not climbing satisfactorily.

Analysis
Weather conditions during the day were benign, with light and variable wind progressively moving to the East. Operations were being conducted on RWY 27 in accordance with local procedures for the conditions. The flight was a training sortie involving a solo student who was flying under supervision without reference to the ASI and Altimeter to qualify for the ‘A’ Certificate. Just prior to the flight the wind had moved to the East and had increased to a few knots. The gliding operation continued with a slight tailwind, as the two Pawnee tow planes were providing safe launches. However, the tow plane for the incident flight was low-powered and unable provide the same performance as the two Pawnees. The initial ground roll was well managed by the student flying but was longer than usual due to the tailwind component. The glider became airborne first and maintained a height of about 2 metres above the runway as the tow plane got airborne and began a shallow climb. Due to the long ground run and slow climb rate, it became obvious to the flight instructor that the combination would pass very low over the airfield boundary. To avoid getting into the non-manoeuvring area and while only about 5 metres above the runway, the instructor activated the tow release with the aim of landing straight ahead. The student was also concerned about the slow climb rate and had been focussing on the boundary fence that was looming ahead. When the glider was released from tow, the student pilot reacted by opening the airbrakes and simultaneously pitched forward on the control column. Due to the low height, the glider almost immediately struck the ground nose first, impacting on the front skid near the fuselage mounting point. Although the instructor was maintaining a defensive posture on the controls, the action happened too fast for the instructor to react. The glider rolled 50 meters and came to rest about 200 meters from the airfield boundary. The tow pilot continued to climb and then joined circuit and landed safely. Initial inspection of the glider identified the nose skid had cracked at a previous repair. A detailed inspection later identified the forward skid mounting tube had slightly deformed. The glider was repaired and returned to service. The instructor debriefed the student who explained that he was concerned that they were running out of runway and when the release was activated, he felt he needed to get the glider on the ground immediately to avoid running into the airfield boundary fence. The student acknowledged that his actions were inappropriate and that he should have maintained the landing attitude. The instructor advised they did not assume control before releasing from tow because they believed the student could handle the emergency and that he had allowed sufficient room for the glider to land straight ahead. The instructor had conducted most of the student’s flight training and advised the student had not reacted in that way previously. The instructor considers it is likely the student was startled by the sudden release from tow at a critical stage of the launch and, in the absence of the ASI to confirm the aircraft’s speed, he acted instinctively to lower the nose and get the aircraft on the ground. The instructor stated that the aircraft struck the ground almost coincident with the over pitching of the elevator control and that he had no time to react.

Safety Advice
1.Startle Response
The startle response is the physical and mental response to a sudden unexpected stimulus. More commonly known as ‘fight or flight’, this physiological reaction occurs in response to what you may perceive as a harmful event, attack, threat to your survival or simply fear. The fight or flight response evolved to enable us to react with appropriate actions: to run away, to fight, or sometimes freeze to be a less visible target. In aviation, startle often occurs when in a highly dynamic, time-critical condition. Two systems in the brain—the reflexive fast system and the slow system—play different roles in our reaction to danger. The reflexive fast system acts immediately—in one twelfth of a second—by sending information directly to the sense organs through the thalamus to the amygdala. The slow system sends sensory information to the hippocampus and cortex for further evaluation. It’s slower because it requires conscious processing. Pilots finding themselves in non-routine, emergency and abnormal situations will have difficulties in recognising that a problem has occurred and difficulties in getting out of the normal mode of operations. While GFA does not have a formal policy with regards to ‘startle factor training’ as a specific issue, training in non-technical skills is required to recognise and manage situations that can occur in a sudden event. The idea is to give pilots the skills to manage a ‘startle’ type event. This training is also encompassed in the GFA’s Flight Review regime, where a pilot’s competency in emergency procedures is demonstrated in flight following simulation of the emergency by the instructor or examiner.

2.Control inputs close to the ground
Pilots should never use coarse elevator control inputs close to the ground, as gliders are sensitive in pitch and such action is inconsistent with a safe transition from a stabilised approach into the flare and landing. Course movement of the elevator control at low levels usually results in a sudden and unrecoverable steep dive into the ground. Instructors should also note that a student pilot’s sudden forward elevator control inputs, initiated at low level (under 100ft), will usually be beyond the limits of instructor intervention and safe recovery.

4-Apr-20211 WAGA
PW-6U
Hard landing
What Happened
The pilot was on their second solo flight and turned onto final approach somewhat higher than normal. The pilot deployed full airbrakes with the aim of landing abeam the control vans but rounded out too late and did not close the airbrakes. The glider struck the ground heavily on the main wheel and bounced back into the air. The pilot pushed the stick too far forward to recover resulting in the glider striking the ground hard a second time on the nose wheel. The front canopy ejected and the nose wheel inner tube burst.

Analysis
The pilot had struggled with the landing phase during training but had demonstrated consistency in recent weeks. On the day prior to the accident the pilot had flown on eight occasions in crosswind conditions and had demonstrated an ability to safely handle rope breaks in difficult situations. On the day of the accident the pilot also demonstrated rope breaks and unusual landings and was sent solo for the first time, and the flight was completed competently. On the second solo flight the pilot joined a high final approach that required the use of full airbrake to achieve the selected aiming point. The pilot was late to round out and forgot to ease closed the airbrakes to arrest the rate of descent. The glider struck the ground heavily and bounced back into the air. The pilot over corrected the recovery from the bounce and pitched too far forward on the elevator control causing the aircraft to strike the ground heavily on the nosewheel. The impact caused the canopy to eject and the nosewheel tube to burst, and the aircraft came to rest about 100 metres from the point of impact. A ‘hard landing’ inspection was conducted, and no further damage was identified. It was found the front canopy attachment was poorly adjusted and probably would not have ejected if correctly adjusted.

Safety Advice
When landing with full airbrakes the pilots should commence the roundout at a height sufficient to overcome the effect of inertia before the ground intervenes. If the pilot rounds out too late, the first action should be to reduce the airbrakes to arrest the descent rate. If the aircraft bounces, the pilot must ensure that any elevator control inputs are small. This is because the faster and cleaner the aircraft, the greater the pitch sensitivity. Recovery from a bounce should not be thought of in terms of 'control movements', but by reference to the glider's attitude and its position in relation to the ground. In other words, the pilot needs to recover by selecting an attitude which prevents any further climb. Bounces can be avoided by the pilot establishing the glider on the approach at the correct airspeed for the conditions using half or more airbrake. Pilots must endeavour to maintain the approach speed to roundout and aim to touch-down with low energy on the main-wheel and tailwheel simultaneously. For further guidance, refer to OSB 01/14 ‘Circuit and Landing advice’ and OSB 01/19 ‘Avoiding Approach & Landing Accidents During Training’.

9-Apr-2021 NGQ
Discus B
Consequential Events
What Happened
During a cross-country flight in weak conditions and at a height of about 2100ft AGL, the pilot decided to head back to the airfield some 31 kms away. The pilot recognised that the glider was below final glide height but pressed on in hope of making it. The pilot stated “with the area being surrounded by paddocks and suitable landing options I continued on the track back to the strip continuing to lose altitude. I lost track of my height and continued to speed up in a desperate attempt to make it back.” The pilot did not make the decision to conduct an outlanding until the glider was very low and made a turn at 100ft AGL to land in a paddock about 10kms from the airfield. The pilot stated: “I was still in disbelief that I had frozen up and did not land sooner. I believe that I put too much faith in the performance of myself and the glider to make it back.”

Analysis
Investigation by the Competition Director revealed that, at the time the pilot elected to return to the home airfield, he was in the vicinity of an agricultural airstrip where a safe outlanding could have been made. The pilot was also aware that he was below final glide and that conditions back to the home airfield were soft. At this point a sound option would have been for the pilot to search for lift while staying within safe glide of the agricultural airstrip, as the lift was going high enough to achieve a safe glide home. The Competition Director reviewed the flight with the pilot and identified some gaps in his knowledge and/or training. The pilot will undergo some remedial training to ensure he has the skills, aptitude, and attitudes to fly cross country safely.

Safety Advice
A common reason for outlanding accidents is the pilot not accepting soon enough that an outlanding is likely, and not prioritising the available height to allow them to fly to a good safe area. Pressing on with the flight in the hope that that all will be well is fraught with danger. Unlike landing at the home airfield where the runway layout, ground features and hazards are usually well known, when landing in a strange paddock the pilot is faced with the unknown. Such a situation demands the pilot take additional precautions to ensure a proper survey is undertaken of the landing area so as to identify all hazards and ensure a safe landing can be accomplished. To enable this check to be done adequately, pick a general area for outlanding at 2,000ft AGL; by 1,500 AGL a specific paddock should have been selected in that area and by 1,000ft AGL you should be committed to planning a circuit and landing into that paddock. Leaving an outlanding decision too late, at too low a height above ground, eats into the available time and eventually shuts off all the pilot’s escape routes. This often has fatal results. Under 700ft AGL, the number one priority is to land safely! For further advice, refer to: The ‘Outlanding’ section in Australian Gliding Knowledge; and
• A Guide to Outfield Landings – by Allan Latemore

 

 

Occurrences & Incidents January - February 2021

All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at glidingaustralia.org/Log-In/log-in-soar.html. This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report at tinyurl.com/ltmko56
Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Occurences

5-Jan-2021 VSA
Standard Cirrus
Ground Operations

What Happened

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.

Safety Actions

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.

5-Jan-2021 NSWGA
Discus b
Wheels up landing


What Happened
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
undercarriage retracted.

Safety Advice
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
Phoebus C
Collision with terrain

What Happened
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.

12-Jan-2021 GQ
Hard landing
Astir CS 77

What Happened
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.

Investigation
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.

24-Jan-2021 NSWGA
Standard Cirrus
Landing gear/Indication

What Happened
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.

Analysis
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. 

Safety Advice
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

What Happened
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.

Analysis
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. 
Safety Advice
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..

8-Feb-2021 VSA
JS1 B
Hard landing

What Happened
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.

Analysis
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.

Safety Advice
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.

 

Occurrences & Incidents November - December 2020

Occurences

All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at glidingaustralia.org/Log-In/log-in-soar.html. This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report at tinyurl.com/ltmko56
Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed

Occurrences & Incidents August - October 2020

 

GFA Occurrence Reports 2 Nov 2020 2

GFA Occurrence Reports 2 Nov 2020 3

 

All clubs and GFA members are urged to report all occurrences and incidents promptly, as and when they occur, using the GFA’s occurrence reporting portal at glidingaustralia.org/Log-In/log-in-soar.html. This is always best done while all details are fresh in everyone's mind.
You can read the full SOAR report Here
Reports noted 'Under investigation' are based on preliminary information received and may contain errors. Any errors in this summary will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Occurrences & Incidents March - July 2020

8-Mar-2020 VSA
Aircraft Control - Hard landing
DG-500 Elan Orion

What Happened
At the end of a soaring flight the inexperienced pilot elected to land long to stop in front of the airfield access gate to the glider hangar. The pilot mishandled the airbrakes during the flare resulting in the gliderballooning, and the aircraft bounced a few times due to misapplication of the controls. The pilot deployed full airbrake to prevent the bounces, which caused the glider to strike the ground heavily on the nose and tailwheel simultaneously. The nosewheel fairing was damaged.