Air Transport World

Keepin' the shiny side up. (carriers train pilots in unusual attitude recovery techniques)

Carriers are taking the initiative to train pilots in unusual attitude recovery techniques

Airline pilots spend nearly all of their professional flying careers well into the flat side of a 30 bank to keep the extremely fragile and easily excitable paying cargo in the seats safe and free from alarm about the flying experience. Most initial and recurrent pilot training has focused on that same comfortable flight regime.

But that is changing. The training community recognizes that although a highly unusual event or sequence of events is required to place an airplane outside the "normal" flight envelope, pilots must react with near-instinctive swiftness to prevent a disaster. Although the airplane may be outside its normal envelope, it remains eminently flyable in most cases, if handled properly. The trick is to identify the problem quickly and pick up the key cues leading back to straight and level flight.

Several recent fatal accidents, including those of a USAir Boeing 737 near Pittsburgh and an American Eagle ATR 42 in Illinois, involved departure from wings-level, controlled flight. Extreme handling techniques also could have been useful in accidents such as the China Airlines A300 runway-environment stall in Japan.

The safety and training communities have considered whether a bit of additional training might have made a difference in the outcomes of those accidents. …

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