Putting Loss of Control In-Flight in Perspective

Consistently, over the past 50 years of statistically analyzed accident history in commercial aviation, Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I) is indisputably one of the leading causes of airplane crashes and crash-related fatalities worldwide. Rivaled only by Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) in magnitude and persistence, LOC-I presents a unique challenge to professional aviation as it highlights a serious deficiency in the pilot’s ability to deal with a variety of unusual flight attitudes and flight envelope excursions. Regrettably, current pilot training curricula, standards and certification requirements perpetuate this pilot-skill deficiency.

Boeing-CAST-Statsum-LOCI-statistics-2015In a report issued by Boeing in August 2015, LOC-I represents the most severe cause factor in commercial aviation over the past 10 years, resulting in the most crash-related fatalities from 2005 through 2014 – even more than CFIT. According to the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), there has been recent aviation-industry emphasis on fatalities being a more accurate representation of the severity of an accident as opposed to hull-losses that has historically been used as an indicator of crash severity. Aviation safety organizations and legislating agencies continue to accurately identify the lethality and severity of LOC-I.

Unfortunately, without any demonstrated ability to implement an effective solution commercial aviation will continue to be plagued by high rates of LOC-I fatalities until a solution is found. Where CFIT can be economically addressed through the integration of ground proximity warning systems and synthetic vision instrumentation augmentation, technology does not currently offer a “quick fix” to LOC-I. Short of re-equipping commercial aircraft around the world with Fly-By-Wire flight control systems with all-attitude all-envelope flight control laws, an industry-wide technological solution to LOC-I is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, the Upset Recovery & Prevention Training Association is on the leading edge of worldwide industry solutions to loss of control in-flight to give the industry access to proven training programs and resources to improve safety of flight.