Category Archives: Pilots to Pilots

The Turn That Kills

By Gilles Jean. President of Aviateurs Quebec

According to Transport Canada, nearly 30 percent of fatal accidents are due to a loss of control during takeoff or landing. Often they are experienced pilots so how do you explain that? You better understand what is happening because it could happen to you!

Many accidents occur during a high banking turn to final. The pilot realizes that he is not aligned and tries to correct by a sharp 45 degree bank or even 60 degrees while raising the nose to keep his altitude. The result is the speed decreases and the plane pitches up. 

At this altitude, it is unlikely to recover. What happens to your stall speed during a turn? At 45 degrees, the stall speed will be 20 percent higher than that in level flight and at 60 degrees it will be 41 percent higher. So, for example a Cessna 172R with a stall speed (Vs) of 51 knots (POH) will stall at 72 knots on a 60 degree turn. 

The recommended approach speed is 65-75 knots. The pilot who is used to making his approaches to 70 knots and decides to make a 60 degrees turn while straightening the nose is likely to be in trouble. This has happened to many of us. The moral of the story is that if your approach is not stabilized and in line final way ahead, go around. The habit should be that when we feel discomfort with our approach, we should simply add power and try again. We won’t tell anyone!

RCAF Announces Pilot Retention Plan

The RCAF is getting competitive in the increasingly tense market for pilots and will likely start paying signing and retention bonuses to experienced military pilots. Too many pilots are leaving the RCAF after serving their minimum amount of time (usually 10 years) after their extensive training and the loss is a double whammy for the Air Force. It not only doesn’t have enough pilots to fill the current demand, it’s losing the very officers who should be going on to become leaders in their squadrons and mentors to the young pilots rotating in. RCAF Commander Lt.-Gen Al Meinzinger told his troops in a message earlier this week the extra money is “vital” to stabilize pilot ranks.

In addition to the financial incentives, Meinzinger said pilots will get to do more of what they signed up for, fly the planes, and less administrative work, which many pilots do not like. Meinzinger said he hopes to offer retention bonuses to experienced pilots and signing bonuses to bring former military pilots back, including those from other allied countries. He said he hopes the measures will solve the RCAF’s pilot shortage within seven years. At last report six months ago, the RCAF was short 275 pilots.