It is worthy to affirm Wichita’s Unique position among the aviation industry, where nowhere else you will find the concentration of top-name general aviation aircraft manufacturers co-located within such a concentrated geographic boundary. What the city of Detroit had become to the automobile in the last century, and Silicon Valley had become to the computer-chip, so too has Wichita, Kans. become the nations and the world’s hot spot for aircraft development and manufacturing!
This incredible business journey has seen the Kansas aviation industry get its fledgling start during the late 1800s when the imaginative but unworkable concepts were envisioned by thinkers and dreamers and converted into reality as test aircraft by mechanics, craftsmen, and blacksmiths. It has seen Kansas become the proving grounds for such industry icons as Walter and Olive Ann Beech, Clyde Cessna, Matty Laird, Lloyd Stearman, and Bill Lear, just to name a few. Through the “Golden Age” of Barnstorming and Airracing, the Kansas Aviation connection has always been at the
forefront with such names as Amelia Earhart, Art Goebel, Frank Hawks, Benny Howard, and Blanche Noyes. Kansas has also played a significant role as a key component in the “arsenal of democracy,” with such intrepid manufacturers as Boeing (Wichita) and
North American Aviation (Kansas City, Kans.) building medium and heavy bombers in the heartland. This amazing legacy is sustained even to this day as new names emerge to carry on the tradition of development that set the world standard for excellence in recreational, business, and military aviation.
Loss of Control (LOC) needs to be Re-Examined
By Quest Richlife
Mark Twain was a stickler when it came to using the right word in the right spot for the right effect. I feel the same way about the prevalent misuse of the phrase “Loss of Control” (LOC) within the aviation community, and it should be addressed.
LOC is an inaccurate nametag for basic pilot error. This pilot error continues to be the cause of a high percentage of aircraft accidents, which occur even while there is a fully functioning human at the controls. Because of the fact that the FAA, NTSB, and others continue to use the term LOC, everyone down the line uses it too. And they do so without questioning its efficacy. But it’s not an accurate descriptor, which will help lead us to solutions for reducing accidents and fatalities in GA. To better attack this problem, we need a phrase, which tells a more complete story of what’s going on in these scenarios.
You see, pilots do more than just control the aircraft they’re flying. Yes, there are control surfaces, control systems, control cables and rods, control inputs, control pressures, and even “the controls” such as the yoke, stick and rudder pedals. But the term we should be using for the operation of those controls by the pilot is: command. That’s because from the very moment that any aircraft moves for the purpose of flight until that aircraft comes to a complete stop again, every fraction of an inch of the movement of that aircraft is COMMANDED by the pilot. If this isn’t true, then who or what IS commanding that aircraft? Is the airplane, helicopter, glider, etc. commanding itself? Do today’s aircraft really have the ability to command themselves? I’ve heard it said with tongue-in-cheek that there’s such a thing as “airplane in command” when a pilot wasn’t doing a very good job of piloting. And if it weren’t for the fact that this quip gets a chuckle from us, it could be sobering as a deadly true statement regarding ineffective piloting technique.
As the primary editorial contributor to In Flight USA, an active CFI, former Exec with a major airline and seminar instructor who works with more than 300 students per year, I applaud the thoughts offered up by Quest Richlife. The fact is, this writer agrees with virtually everything Quest said, with one exception that will be address, but fears the opinions offered are tilting at the wrong windmill. I believe many in the real world of pilot training agree with the “command” concept, but the FAA does not… and the FAA is a pretty big windmill.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRCs) are required to present FAA-approved courses, with content carefully supervised by the FAA. Failure to use FAA safety terminology as taught in the official FAA thinking process called “Aeronautical Decision Making” (ADM) can result in de-certification of a training course. Virtually all FAA published training manuals now carry large chapters on ADM. As new technology, fully auto integrated, aircraft came into common use almost 15 years ago, the FAA concluded that basic flying skills would no longer be needed, but a process of thinking and behavior would be stressed to manage these new aircraft. And here is where Quest and this writer are forced to part way, if only by a little.
Regrettably, the concept of “aircraft in command” is not a fantasy; it is reality. We now have at least two generations of young pilots who learned to fly at the big “be an airline pilot” flight schools. They trained in fully integrated, advanced technology trainers, such as the Cirrus and modern Cessna 172. These pilots were heading for the airlines (or at least the Regional Carriers) but have been diverted into GA training, as they need to build more flight time, a relatively new requirement implemented by Congress. These young pilots (and many newcomers with the bucks to buy a $700K+ single) are specifically taught to fly as their future employers, the airlines, want them to fly.