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2019 Year In Review

2019 Skydiving Aircraft Accidents: Year in Review

Looking back at the year 2019 in jump plane accidents for the United States, the record again showed improvement in the total number of accidents. There were only four incidents that fit the NTSB definition of “aircraft accident.” However, a low number of accidents is still not zero, and having a low number of accidents doesn’t change the heart-rending loss of 11 lives on the King Air crash in Hawaii. That hole can never be filled; it will be felt forever by those involved at the field and the friends and families of those who were lost. Two of the accidents only have Preliminary accident reports listed on the NTSB website, one has a place holder Preliminary entry, and one at Pepperell, MA, has a Factual report released.

This website has always been focused on the various flight jobs a jump pilot may have to perform during their employment, and the safety of the people and aircraft the DZ owner/manager has entrusted to them. Thus, when we discuss jump plane accidents, these all involve a jump plane and possibly skydivers on board during skydiving operations, maintenance flights, and ferry flights.

Only four times in the last 20 years have fatalities in jump plane accidents reached double digits. Twenty-two years ago, in 1997, there were 27 fatalities. It only took one accident in 2019 to put the record over the double-digit mark. This can easily make the year seem like one of the worst ever, and again, I reiterate the loss of 11 lives is a loss for us all. The last time fatalities reached double digits was 2007, when two fatal accidents cost 15 lives. And finally, of the four double-digit fatality years in the last 20 years (1999, 2001, 2007 and 2019), a King Air 90 was involved in three while the other one was a Cessna 208 Caravan.

Of note in jump plane incidents (when the amount of damage or injury does not rise to the level of accident according to NTSB 830), there were several Cessna 208 Caravan landing incidents. One was filmed going past idle thrust and into beta before touchdown, causing the tail to lose airflow and slam the nose down, collapsing it. Another similar incident happened in the northeast. Pilots, owners and operators would be advised to ensure that their pilots are fully aware of the Flight Manual checklists and limitations for landing.

The good news is that the industry has continually improved training and exchanged information faster than ever before. How to manage a safe operation is out there for the taking; people just have to work at it a little. A whole world of information is available through this site, USPA, mentors, and Facebook groups like https://www.facebook.com/DiverDrivercom/.

Just two years ago in 2017, there were no fatal jump plane accidents for the first time since 1982. It is reasonable to believe that if the number of jump plane accidents stays low, the likelihood of a fatal jump plane accident should also remain low. All operators have a strong duty to ensure that the plane and pilot are both fully maintained, trained, and monitored for proper operation. Incidents with larger aircraft can impact many more lives than with a C182, but any is still too many.

We are all in this together, so spread the word: Training works, maintenance is cheaper than accident lawsuits, and smiles in the sky attract far more clients than memorials and wreaths.

DiverDriver.com

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DiverDriver.com 2018

I hope everyone in the southern hemisphere has been having a great skydiving season. In the northern hemisphere we’re just starting to crank back up other than for the southerly located DZs that can operate through our winter.

For those new to the website I welcome you. I hope you find the website useful. The layout is set up that a new jump pilot looking to self educate should start on the left drop menu and work their way right. You’re also invited to join the Facebook group discussion here. The group is intended for updates from the website and topical discussions. If you are a DZO and wish to advertise an open jump pilot position just follow the instructions on the JOBS tab and I’ll get you listed.

Thanks for checking in and as always if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Safe Loads

Chris Schindler
DiverDriver.com

 

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Skydive Kauai Cessna 182 crash NTSB final report.

The NTSB has released the final report on the May 23, 2016 fatal Cessna 182 crash at Skydive Kauai.

Read the NTSB report.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed following a partial loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined during postaccident examination, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall.

The NTSB says the low time pilot was the cause by allowing the aircraft to slow, stall and spin after a partial engine failure. What is not answered is: why did the engine fail? The facts of the case include a discussion about an Autogas STC to use automobile gas instead of 100LL aviation gas. Fuel was purchased at a nearby gas station without regard for whether it was ethanol free. The state of Hawaii does not require markings at pumps warning of ethanol if it has less than 1% ethanol in the fuel. And yet, even though 12 gallons of gas was recovered from the accident aircraft and tested for the presence of water it was never tested for the presence of ethanol. There is no mention of testing for ethanol in the hand containers that transported the fuel and filled the aircraft. The report brings up the question by referencing an EASA paper on Autogas in aircraft but makes no correlation. The report discusses the atmospheric conditions for the formation of carburetor icing as being severe at idle that day but then says carburetor icing is unlikely due to the aircraft being at high power during takeoff. But what if carburetor ice formed on the previous descent? Jump planes descend at near idle power for long periods normally. No account for how much time in between loads is stated.

With respect to the pilot’s experience the report states he held a US commercial license single engine land (appropriate for the operation). However, zero information is provided other than total flight hours as to the pilot’s experience. The pilot’s logbook does not show any experience in a Cessna 182 and the last entry was about two months prior to the accident. The amount of time in type is not provided at all in the report nor does it seem the operator of Skydive Kauai was asked to provide an estimate from time of employment. No account is given for what training in the operation was given. Questions remain:

  • How did the operation train the pilot to fly for them?
  • What topics were covered?
  • Did the topic of engine failure on departing runway 9 (towards open ocean) get discussed?
  • What was expected?

Flying skydivers is not like other flying even if you are rated to fly the aircraft to be used. This pilot did not have an instructor rating and in the U S only the Certified Flight Instructor rating is required to have spin training.

Were any of the occupants wearing flotation devices in the event of a water landing? According to previous pilots at Skydive Kauai none were ever provided despite the proximity to open ocean.

In the discussion of the video recording it was stated the stall horn never sounded. But there is zero explanation as to why. Is it a result of a right spin or an inoperative component?

It has been a year and half since the accident and the NTSB has reverted to the ready standby result of “pilot error.” Comparatively, when a fatal accident occurs in charter or airline flying great scrutiny is given to the corporate environment the accident happened in. Detailed explanations of training, experience and expectations are laid out. And none of that is provided here nor does there seem to be any effort to do so. The only “lesson” that seems to come from this report is “don’t mess up” with the reference to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook to “establish a glide straight ahead.” So why no critical thinking of why this pilot might not have chosen to do that? The right turn seems to be intentional. The video report says after the reduction in power the left aileron trailing edge is observed deflected down in a right roll position. Is this because the pilot was faced with ditching in open ocean with no flotation devices? Why turn right instead of left?

What I take from this accident and NTSB report is that if skydiving aircraft operations are to improve it is up to us to make it happen. We can not expect, nor do I think we should wish for, government intervention with increased regulation. The resources are there. Decades of effort to provide easy and free information on how to safely fly skydivers is readily available through USPA, DiverDriver.com, FAA AC-105E and online forums. Skydivers and pilots together must learn what a “good” operation looks like. And if what they see does not conform to that standard they need to walk away. In fact, several pilots had already walked away from Skydive Kauai.

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DiverDriver.com update NTSB

Numerous things have been going on in the world over DiverDriving and the website DiverDriver.com. Lots of discussion has been occurring on the FaceBook group. If you’re not a member join up and participate in the discussion.

Back in the late 1990s there was no specific publicly available list of jump plane accidents in the USA. Knowledge of these accidents was passed on as verbal history, folklore and legend. And often facts were lost, never known or made up. Because of this there was no way to gauge how skydiving operations compared to any other part of aviation in terms of safety. That’s when this website began to scour the NTSB website for key words to construct a viewable list that could be accessed by anyone. People could do their own directed research. However, it quickly became apparent that some jump plane accident reports lacked key terms that would identify it as being associated with skydiving. Tracking the FAA daily intake in conjunction with future NTSB reports was the best way at the time to track them. This effort was to give new and experienced operators (pilots and DZOs) a way to learn from other’s mistakes. The original list was broken down by year and date of accident. After the complete redo of the website DiverDriver.com the list is searchable by year, aircraft type and type of accident cause or contributing factor.

The NTSB, beginning in 2016, has changed how accident reports are posted at NTSB Search. First, we now have a specific Skydiving Operations subset available for review. But it’s not without its limitations. Not every jump plane accident gets tagged with the attribute initially. This can be due to lack of knowledge that the subset exists or unaware at the time of the accident that skydiving ops were involved on that flight. Through contacts these omissions can be corrected in later updates but take time. That’s why the list at DiverDriver.com Accidents is still the most comprehensive list of jump plane accidents anywhere. Bookmark the link and stay informed.

Frustratingly, the NTSB has also started putting a bare minimum of information in the Preliminary Report. All that is posted is an html link to a date, location, aircraft type and level of accident (fatal, non-fatal). Zero description of anything that may have occurred is listed. This has limited the amount of timely information DiverDriver.com has been able to put out. And a review of past accidents reveals that three jump plane accidents that occurred over two years ago only have a Preliminary Report. There is no way to compel the NTSB wrap up a report and issue a Final Cause faster than they want to. However, overtures are being made to press the importance and usefulness to the skydiving community that report completion is vital to improving safety.

More recently final reports have been issued on some jump plane accidents. A Cessna 208 Supervan overran its runway of intended landing resulting in substantial damage at Baldwin, WI on July 21, 2016. The NTSB determined that the grass runway was unsuitable in length for landing with a full load of jumpers still on board. Which brings up a question. If a jump plane cannot return to the runway it departed (assuming it’s the only runway available at the departure airport) how could it possibly abort a takeoff successfully if ANY problem arises at liftoff speed? While legal to the FARs for Part 91 it’s hard to believe operators who invest in expensive aircraft and upgrades would then place them into conditions that the only option if you can’t fly after rotation speed is achieved is to crash off the end of the runway. Think about it. As a jump pilot you should be THOROUGHLY informed as the performance of the aircraft in takeoff AND landing with a full load. Can you accelerate and stop on the runway if at rotation speed you find the aircraft won’t fly? Examples could be: control lock still installed, bird/animal strike, flaps set incorrectly or failed, runway condition does not allow further acceleration (sod, dirt, gravel).

Next we have yet another old Cessna 182A running out of gas over the top of its departure airport and crashing short of the runway. First, STOP RUNNING OUT OF GAS!!! It’s the most basic of tasks a pilot must manage starting as a Student Pilot. You have to have enough gas for your flight. Second, this year (2017) alone there have been eight jump plane accidents in skydiving ops, ferrying and maintenance flights. FOUR of those accidents involve the pilot running out of gas. HALF!!! Half of the accidents this year are from running out of gas. That is remarkable considering all but one of these pilots hold a Commercial Pilot’s License or higher. This is a scourge in our industry. And it can only be fixed by YOU the jump pilot. You have to manage yourself and how you conduct each flight. Let’s stop running out of gas.

Blue Skies and soft landings.
CAVU

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PAC 750XL section has been expanded.

Philip Esdaile has been very kind to help expand the PAC 750XL section of DiverDriver.com. He is the president of Utility Aircraft Corporation. Thank you so much Philip and I hope all can find great use out of it. Spread the word and raise awareness!

PAC 750XL aircraft specific section.

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DiverDriver.com on AvWeb!

I was able to collaborate with AvWeb.com on an article to promote flying skydivers. Great exposure which I’m sure will bring a lot of traffic to this website.

The article can be found here.

And for a little tease I’ll tell you that I have a large update to the Training Section coming soon! Stay tuned.

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ATTENTION! ATTENTION! YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOW IF YOU’RE FLYING SKYDIVERS. YOUR CERTIFICATE CAN BE AT RISK.

A recent tandem fatality in California, USA has lead to great concern that scores of skydivers who present themselves as Tandem Instructors may not actually be certified at all. The United States Parachute Association has taken action and put out an announcement of that action today 9/1/2016.

If you are currently flying skydivers in the USA you must read this and verify the currency and authenticity of the tandem instructors you drop. Should there be an incident with a tandem you drop you are exposed. FAR 105.45 is quite clear about tandem skydiving.

§105.45   Use of tandem parachute systems.

(a) No person may conduct a parachute operation using a tandem parachute system, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow any person to conduct a parachute operation from that aircraft using a tandem parachute system, unless—

(1) One of the parachutists using the tandem parachute system is the parachutist in command, and meets the following requirements:

(i) Has a minimum of 3 years of experience in parachuting, and must provide documentation that the parachutist—

(ii) Has completed a minimum of 500 freefall parachute jumps using a ram-air parachute, and

(iii) Holds a master parachute license issued by an organization recognized by the FAA, and

(iv) Has successfully completed a tandem instructor course given by the manufacturer of the tandem parachute system used in the parachute operation or a course acceptable to the Administrator.

(v) Has been certified by the appropriate parachute manufacturer or tandem course provider as being properly trained on the use of the specific tandem parachute system to be used.

Please read this announcement from USPA here.

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DiverDriverCom Facebook group is growing!

I want to welcome over 100 new members! Thank you for taking an interest in the Facebook Group for my website www.DiverDriver.com. It has been a resource for jump pilots, DZOs and skydivers since December of 2000. The greatest problem I saw in the beginning was the lack of standard training, zero required training and training done by myth and legend. Institutional knowledge left the industry at a rapid rate as jump pilots moved on to other jobs. The same accidents were repeated with great regularity and there was no easily accessible list of jump plane accidents and causes to learn from.
 
So Christy West and I set out to create something that could be easily accessed any time and give detailed examples of how to safely and efficiently fly skydivers. Almost three years ago we set out to revamp the site and we have added a tremendous amount of usability.
 
The front page will show the latest blog entries of articles I or others have created about specific topics. Begin using the website by selecting training to get an over view of what you should expect from a DZ when learning to fly skydivers. Go through the training syllabus and practice written test. The answers may have a specific local answer so cannot be answered on this site.
 
Moving right across the menu bar you can select your specific aircraft you are interested in or going to check out in. These articles have been written by highly experienced DiverDrivers. But as always YOU MUST VERIFY ALL INFORMATION  before using it in your operation. We are trying to help you and lead you to a safe path for flying skydivers. We are not the manufacturer nor the FAA. We are giving you what the industry has inconsistently offered for decades.
 
Next you will read the blog. They are short discussions of specific topics of the day or a “I learned about flying jumpers from that” stories. Read back as far as you can. Gain the institutional knowledge from a vast experience. Don’t repeat the accidents of the past.
 
Regulations is the fifth selection and something I honestly didn’t know existed when I started flying jumpers. Don’t be that pilot who blindly walks into the job not knowing what you don’t know.
 
ACCIDENTS! This is the engine that drives the whole site but I don’t put it number one on the menu. This is where my analysis of the state of the industry comes from. I consider it a “Jump Plane” accident if the aircraft is used for skydiving purposes whether it was engaged in dropping jumpers on that flight or not. This differs from the USPA statistic. The reason behind my list is that I am educating the whole pilot. They need to know all the things they are getting in to. The Accident section is broken down in many ways. You can see by year back to 1982 what is happening. You can select the type of aircraft and see a complete list of your aircraft and the problems they’ve had. And you can select a particular cause and see how prominent it is.
 
Lastly we have open jobs, the shop where you can show your support for the site and the many contributors to making this site possible.
 
I don’t have all the answers. But I have a lot of them. Take your time. Read through it all. Don’t skim. You want your pilot certificate intact if and when you decide to move on from this job. I’m here to help you do that.
If you haven’t already joined the FaceBook group click here.
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Addressing Single Engine Turbine Accidents.

I have written this piece with the intention to bring awareness before a large statistic is created. This article has been forming for quite some time. Please take it as a mild wakeup call before greater catastrophe happens. I see this topic much as I saw things happening in 1998 when I began speaking out on jump plane safety. It is NOT a piece to condemn the pilots or operations mentioned here. Everyone was doing the best they could at the time things happened.

 

Dear aircraft owners, pilots, and DZOs,

I think there is a growing problem.  Since 2008 I have been monitoring several single engine turbine accidents and incidents. Most have been Caravans, but there are a few reports of PAC-750s. The problems seem to stem from the concept that a single engine turbine is just a step up in power over a single engine piston aircraft. However, the types of accidents I am seeing leads me to believe that not enough information is being shared and training has been inadequate for the growing number of single engine turbine aircraft in the skydiving fleet.

Any engine failure soon after takeoff WILL be a very stressful event. Training must be thorough and review should be accomplished with regularity on the procedures from the PIM/POH/AFM. In 2008, a Caravan lost its engine during climb due to blade creep. The NTSB sited the owner/operator for poor maintenance leading to the failure. We can all take a long period pointing fingers on what caused the engine failure to begin with, but what I’m concerned about is what the pilots are doing AFTER the engine fails. Several engine-out events have led to accidents with major structural damage or total hull loss. There are two paths to poor outcomes happening here.

FEATHER PROP AND OVERSHOOT RUNWAY / SUITABLE LANDING AREA

Some pilots are following the PIM and feathering the propeller according to procedure. They have had plenty of altitude almost directly over the airport. However, they have come in too fast (and in a couple of cases downwind) and overshot the runway ending in substantial damage. When these accidents happened, I put out several calls for Caravan operators to have their pilots practice with a ZERO THRUST SETTING approach to simulate a feathered prop. You will not have the normal drag of a windmilling prop to slow you down. The descent angle will be much flatter and if you try to fly target altitudes and speeds around the landing pattern, like a normal post drop approach, you will overshoot almost every time. After consulting many experienced jump pilots in Caravans, it has been suggested that a setting of 300# torque will approximate a zero thrust or “feathered” propeller. You do NOT want to actually feather the prop for practice and land it, as you will be creating a real emergency. This is for demonstration and recurrent training of your single engine turbine pilots.

Understand that the Caravan PIM states that with an engine failure after takeoff, the airspeed of 85 KIAS should be maintained, prop feathered, then flaps to 20 degrees recommended. This is to preserve speed and altitude as much as possible. Otherwise the now non-powered prop will be creating more drag than idle power descent! Fuel condition should be cutoff (to take away any more fuel that could be burning up there before crashing). These things must must must be ingrained and acted upon. The term “turbine safety” may be true and a nice selling point in acquiring a single engine turbine aircraft for your jump operation, but for the pilot stepping up the decision tree, it becomes a lot more complex.

2008 Greensburg, IN crash

2011 Mesquite, NV crash

DID NOT FEATHER AND CRASHED SHORT OF A GOOD LANDING AREA

As mentioned previously, the PIM states that the first action after maintaining flying speed should be prop feathered. However, several recent accidents show that pilots don’t always follow the book and it can create a consequence that, while might not fatal, could very well lead to hull loss.

Set up initial and recurrent training for your pilots to discuss, practice and execute emergency procedures or the intensity of the situation may overwhelm the pilot. Some may call it tunnel vision (stress induced vision loss), but more likely it is “tunnel thinking.” FLY THE PLANE FLY THE PLANE FLY THE PLANE. And with that they may corner themselves into decision-making that has a less than optimal outcome.

Two recent Caravan accidents had an engine failure that began around 2 thousand feet above the ground. No skydivers left the aircraft (which I will discuss as another issue later). However, the prop was not feathered. In one case, the descent rate with a wind milling non-feathered prop was 2000 feet per minute or more. The pilot, obviously sensing the great drag of the prop, also flew an indicated airspeed well above the recommended 85 KIAS, possibly trying to ensure that he did not stall and spin. If the pilot chose to leave the prop not feathered so as to have drag during rollout, then by that logic adding flaps would have helped reduce energy at touchdown thus reducing ground roll. But the pilot also did not use any flaps (also contrary to the PIM which calls for flaps 20 degrees). Again, I have trouble actually faulting the pilot for not perfectly following the PIM procedure. I wasn’t there, do not know his experience level and do not know exactly what altitude the emergency actually started at. But taking this action (or non-action as it were) the time for decision-making and approach setup were greatly reduced. This is why procedure needs to be instinctive. You do not rise to the occasion you fall to the level of your training.

2013 Cookstown, Canada

2015 Virdigris, OK crash

2015 Dubai

2016 Lodi, CA crash

TWO THOUSAND FEET AND NO ONE JUMPED

In two recent cases, the engine failure happened at or about 2000 feet above field elevation. For the longest time in skydiving I’ve heard the mantra (with a little bravado) “just get me a grand and I’ll bailout on reserve,” yet no one did.  Now, jumpers are trained that in an aircraft emergency, they should prepare according to instruction from the pilot. However, we have seen that in these, now more complex, single engine turbine aircraft, the decision tree is more complex than a single piston engine aircraft. Things happen faster and if exacting action is not taken at the right moment, the time until touchdown is greatly reduced. Suddenly jumpers are shouting questions at the pilot and they may very well get no response due to the pilot, who is already task saturated, concentrating on just keeping blue up and brown down. So discuss it now on the ground with your staff, your experienced jumpers and then train your newer jumpers. Keep in mind that bailing above one thousand feet above ground may work in piston singles, but if you don’t start out with an engine failure well above that altitude (I’m saying 4-5K) you realistically won’t expect anyone to get out. The best things to do unless the plane is out of control, is ensure the security of the seatbelt/restraint and secure your helmet (preferably on your head). Do nothing until the aircraft comes to a stop. I know in this situation emotion can run very high, but while a recent jump plane landed off airport, a jumper can be heard yelling “open the door! open the door!” while the plane is still speeding along trying to stop. Discuss with jumpers that taking this action would require a jumper to move out of a good brace position, thus exposing themselves and others to injury if the aircraft collides with say a truck or tree.

Each emergency situation is unique, but through discussion, training, recurrent training and after incident analysis we can improve everyone’s knowledge and chances for survivability should the remote chance of engine failure lead to undesirable states of landing.

In summary:

  1. Train pilots on the proper procedure for engine failure from your specific aircraft pilot manual. Make sure everyone is on the same page on how an engine failure will be handled.
  2. Discuss with your pilots and ESPECIALLY visiting pilots on where good terrain is in case of off airport landing should become necessary.
  3. Have the pilot practice zero thrust landings simulating feathered prop with both zero flaps and normal landing flaps (or recommended flaps during engine failure per the PIM). Make it a part of recurrent training also.
  4. Discuss with your jumpers on the idea that old adages of skydiving plane emergencies may not work now with the proliferation of single engine turbine jump planes.

Unknown:
2016 Skydive Mexico crash

Please join our FaceBook Group for further discussion or leave a comment here.

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Time to ask the audience.

What do you feel should be the standard ground instruction time and flight time to check out a new Cessna 182 pilot as DiverDriver? Consider no skydiving experience or time in a 182.

Thank you for your replies.

Good discussion going on in our FaceBook group.

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Aircraft Control After Engine Failure on Takeoff

This is a document that just came out from the FAA January 2016. It’s only two pages long in pdf. It’s a good quick read and should be part of any initial jump pilot training to reinforce what should already be known but sadly we’ve seen the results from inaction or incorrect action. YOU WILL BE STARTLED when it really happens. Getting through the startle response is the point of this document and back into performing like you trained. No one is immune. Even though we call training “Stress Inoculation” it’s not really true. Training is the road map of what to do next. Having a clear map will get you past the startle response faster.

Click on the link to download this file produced by the FAA: GAJSC – Training Aid

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Stay hydrated. Take your trash please.

Water Bottle in Control Cables

Who shoved a bottle into the side wall of a Twin Otter will never be known. However, where it ended up was found during an inspection. How long it had been there is only limited by the last time this inspection was required. But having any object jammed between control cables can lead to obviously negative consequences. If you see someone entering the plane with any object they may not intend to take with them on a jump ensure the disposition of that object will be known. The same mechanic who provided this photo also found a Red Bull can under the floor previously but doesn’t have a photo.

Consider establishing a DZ policy of no drinks on operating loads or maybe have a trash bag near the pilot seat (thinking turbine aircraft) just to have an obvious place for depositing. Utilize your DZs communication avenues (Safety Day, DZ email list) to inform jumpers of their actions they may not realize are dangerous to themselves, their fellow jumpers, the pilot and the DZ. Nobody wants an out of control jump plane careening into the nearby neighborhood.

 

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Old model Cessna 182 unusable fuel.

This NTSB final report has come out on a 182 crash at Geneseo, IL. The FAA does not understand the fuel system of the early 182 models. The old Cessna 182 (1956) A through (1960) D has an unusable fuel of 5 GALLONS PER TANK. In the report they say that 9 gallons were left which 6.5 were usable. This is not true. It would be 4 gallons and I question even that. Pitching “up and down” is maneuvering flight. Second, the right tank was dry. There may be a venting problem which caused the system to syphon the right tank dry and then a vacuum prevented fuel from flowing from the left tank. If you have to pitch up and down to get fuel that tells me you know you have wrinkled fuel tank bladders. That plane is unairworthy to begin with and unusable fuel goes up above the 5 per tank normal! While the NTSB correctly states the cause of the accident as fuel exhaustion the body of the report leaves you scratching your head as to how that can be. Fuel exhaustion is no more usable fuel. Fuel starvation is fuel is on board but for some reason is not making it to the engine to be combusted.

Please Please Please stop thinking you have more usable fuel in these old models. The POH is very misleading in how it states the unusable fuel. You are ALWAYS maneuvering in the traffic pattern to land. Unusable fuel is TEN gallons total, five gallons per tank.
You can reference Cessna 182 Type Data Sheet here.

Join our Facebook group for easy discussion.

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DiverDriver.com now has job listings.

If you are looking for work as a jump pilot we now have a Job Listings section in the main menu. Newest job listings will be at the top.
Our first listing is from Skydive Suffolk for their PAC 750 and Skyvan. Get that foot in the door and start building valuable turbine time!

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Safety…every flight…every time.

After an incredibly quiet first half of the year 2015 we have had a spate of jump plane accidents in the USA and elsewhere. This is not uncommon as this is the height of the skydiving season in many parts of the world. However, many long time experienced industry insiders are all raising an eyebrow over the string of accidents and incidents in the last four weeks alone.

  • Two King Air 90s have had landing gear collapses. One after a reported engine fire and one after some electrical problem. Both pilots were either unable or did not know how much it takes to manually extend the gear to down and lock position.
  • A C-182 in Moab, UT had an off airport landing presumably after fuel was unported from the pickup and the engine failed while approaching the intended airport of landing.
  • A C-182 clipped trees in Washington while approaching the intended airport of landing and crashed.
  • A C-205 had a forced landing on a busy highway after reaching a height of 4,500. No one made an emergency exit. Reportedly there were two tandems on board. No cause of the engine failure has been reported.
  • C-208 with PT6-114 engine forced landed near Sebastian, FL. The -114 engine has had a history of catastrophic failure lately and the manufacturer has put out several bulletins about this.
  • C-208 Blackhawk converted Caravan crashed in Dubai after a catastrophic engine failure at 2,100 feet above group. Reportedly the propeller did not feather and the descent rate was significant. Although the load was all experienced fun jumpers no one made an emergency exit after seeing parts fly by the door. The resulting forced landing was survivable and all occupants exited relatively unharmed. The aircraft was consumed by fire post impact.
  • And early this year in March a TexasTubines converted C-208 to Supervan experienced a loss of power on a post maintenance flight to test the autopilot before being ferried to a new owner in Europe.
  • A PAC-750 experienced an engine failure of it’s PT-6 at 250 above the ground and made a successful forced landing in grass with no aircraft damage or injuries.
  • And on July 14 a Cessna 182 pilot jumped from his aircraft utilizing his emergency rig over farm country due to what has been reported as flaps not extending evenly and loss of aircraft control.

We have gone from a year where a little crowing was in order for the serious drop in the number of jump plane accidents to a year where the feeling is “what’s next?” Be alert. Be methodical. Know your emergency procedures and that your jumpers are briefed on when they should expect to stay seated in an emergency and when they can reasonably expect to go. The old adage of “just get me a 1000 feet and I’ll bail” seems to have been debunked in one fell swoop. This may still work with old Cessna 182, 205, 206 but Cessna 208 Caravans that lose the engine and the prop DOES NOT FEATHER you are coming down right where you ever happen to be. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen this happen in years past so you need to consider this in your planning for emergencies.

  • Engine fails and prop feathers automatically or by pilot action you will have a flatter glide than you are used to and over shooting a runway becomes a concern. Several accidents in years past bore this out. Practice engine out procedures by using a zero thrust setting.
  • All single engine aircraft should plan their climbing flight to be within gliding distance of a runway or suitable off field landing area. You must play the “if it fails here where do I go? And if I’m here where do I go?” There should not be any doubt. However, a failure of prop feathering or failure to manually feather by pilot action will shorten your decision making time. So make this scenario engrained in your thinking. You may only have seconds to react!

Stay safe out there. And if you haven’t already, join our FaceBook group for continued discussion or leave a comment here.

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20 Years Ago….

Twenty years ago a friend suggested that I needed to build my total time faster because my corporate job really wasn’t going to advance my career. He suggested flying skydivers like he was. I wouldn’t make a lot of money but I could log valuable flight hours in a fun, unique way. But the DZ he was flying for wouldn’t hire me. So, I took his next suggestion and drove down to Horizon Skydiving in Harrisonville, MO on Memorial Day weekend. The DZO was not there so I hung around for awhile watching the operation. I was told to come back the next weekend so I did. Upon returning the DZO Dana Savorelli talked to me and agreed to hire me to fly his Cessna 182s. But the pilot who would do the training wasn’t there so….come back next week. Not sure if this was a test but it all worked out and I started flying skydivers on the third weekend there.

After two months of flying jumpers I decided that maybe I should take the first jump course taught by Glenn Houser and make one static line jump. I figured it would make me a better jump pilot. During our FJC lunch break we returned to the airport only to have people scurrying around and crossing the runway quickly. We went back to class and completed the training. At then end of class we were told there had been an accident and a jumper was fatally injured. After seven years of operating at that airport this was the first time. The DZ would never operate there again. The city illegally stated they would arrest anyone if they tried to jump there. The DZO decided he did not want that sort of confrontation using his friends to prove a point.

So, the group of jumpers from Harrisonville seemed to split off going to two other Kansas City area dropzones. I went to Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club at Independence, MO where my pilot friend had been flying jumpers. I was told I still didn’t qualify for insurance due to total time despite a BS degree in Aeronautical Science, hours of experience in aircraft greater in complexity than their 182s and 206s and prior experience flying skydivers. I still wanted to be with my new friends so I hung around. And it was suggested I take a refresher course and do that first jump. I took them up on the offer and made that first IAD jump. EVERYTHING changed after that.

…20 years later I am very proud of what Christy West and I have accomplished with this website and humbled to have so many of you follow and contribute to the information here. I reported to you early this year I was invited to the Dropzone Operators Conference in Daytona Beach, FL for recognition on another contribution to the United States Parachute Associations in flying formation aircraft with jumpers. The article on the event appears in the June issue of Parachutist.

Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group for updates.

IMG_1090 IMG_1091
 IMG_1093

 

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Fatal Cessna 182 crash Mexico

TandemPairInTow

 

Reports are coming in a Cessna 182 accident. A tandem pair got hung up on the step attempting to exit. The pilot descended and according to witnesses the TI deployed drogue and main parachute while the aircraft flew 50 feet about the ocean. The plane immediately nosed down and impacted water. The pilot survived but the tandem pair are missing and presumed dead. The aircraft sank in reportedly 1000′ deep water.

A news article

 

The TM should have a hook knife. The Pilot should have access to a hookknife. However, the TI may not have been able to reach the hang up. And, do you really want to cut your leg strap? Hung up by a bootie? Sure, go for it.

BUTTTTTT!!! Listen up DiverDrivers! You need to consider how much fuel you have AND STAY AT ALTITUDE AS LONG AS YOU CAN!!! Why descend and then fly around? Take away altitude in the case they DO get free? Why? Falling from 50 feet can kill you in water. Impacting water above 60 mph is like hitting concrete. Water is incompressible.

Years ago a jumper snagged a bootie on the step of a 182. Attempts at freeing him were unsuccessful. After exhaustively talking about options with people on the ground they had emergency personnel in place and they landed in the grass next to the runway. The jumper basically walked away from it.

Student in Tow used to be something all jump pilots had to learn as the most common method of student training was static line. Now, jumpers never learn this. DEPLOYING YOUR PARACHUTE WHILE IN TOW WILL KILL YOU!!!!! And possibly others on the plane.

Options:

1. Know your aircraft and know how you are going to exit. If this is the first time doing a tandem out of a 182 maybe it would be a good idea to have your “student” be an experience tandem instructor or at the very least an experienced jumper.

2. Don’t do sitting exits. Don’t be lazy. Poised exit.

3. HOOK KNIVES!!!!

4. Gas is time. When in an emergency you must think about how much time you have and SLOW DOWN! Altitude is life. Takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory but landing RIGHT NOW may not always be mandatory.

5. Circling over water because “it’s softer”….do you have floatation devices? Trapped in something that will sink….is that really a good option?

6.Cessnas were designed to land on grass. Consider it. People HAVE survived landing attached to the plane.

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Turbo-Charged engines

DiverDriver.com Turbocharged Engines

I have had a lot of requests for information on best ways to operate turbocharged engines in skydiving operations. The greatest fear it seems is from rapid cooling and breaking the turbocharger. What I will provide next is a summation of information gained from personal experience, many current DiverDrivers flying jumpers in turbocharged piston engines, and a series of articles by John Deakin called the Pelican’s Perch. This section should not run contrary to any manufacturer’s information. You must take the time to research information you use in your operation.

Turbocharged engines in skydiving ops:

  • Go over the engine manufacturer’s guidance thoroughly. If you don’t have it CALL THEM.
  • Follow the warm up and cool down guidance. In general, you want at least 2 minutes at idle after landing to let the turbocharger cool before shutdown to prevent damage. Normal taxi time from runway to parking can accomplish this. Don’t think you have to get to your parking spot and THEN start a 2 minute wait. You may very well be heating your turbo back up!
  • Do not exceed 380˚F CHT in the climb. Use mixture and airspeed to control CHT.
  • Look to be level about 2 miles before drop so a power reduction for level flight will begin the cooling process of the turbocharger and cylinders. Close cowl flaps.
  • Last jumper out, close door, ensure cowl flaps are closed, reduce to bottom of the green MP and this should keep the engine from cooling too quickly. If you observe a maximum of 380-400˚F CHT during climb you will not “shock cool” the cylinders. You can only shock cool that which has overheated to begin with.
  • Do NOT push mixture full rich on descent. This will cool your cylinders too fast. Use a slightly ROP (rich of peak) setting. Remember, richer is cooler.
  • All cylinder engine monitoring system HIGHLY recommended with a CHT alarm that can be set to 400˚F while you monitor your TIT (turbine inlet temperature).

Read John Deakin’s articles here on turbochargers. Part 1 and 2 are how turbochargers are constructed and the theory on how they work. Part 3 begins the nuts and bolts of what to do. However, it comes with a warning to make sure you read part 1 and 2! Best power comes at about 100˚F rich of peak (ROP) exhaust gas temperature (EGT). John recommends to not allow your CHT go over 380˚F (buffer for a limit of 400˚F)

Pelican’s Perch by John Deakin
Part #1
Part #2
Part #3
Part #4
Part #5
Part #6
Update for cold weather

 

Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group to keep up to date with the discussion.

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Finland Compair-8 Final report April 20, 2014

The summary below is taken from page IX of the report.

SUMMARY
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF EIGHT SKYDIVERS AT
JÄMIJÄRVI ON 20 APRIL 2014

On Easter Sunday, 20 April 2014 at 15:40 Finnish time (UTC + 3h) an accident occurred at Jämijärvi aerodrome when a Comp Air 8 aircraft, registration OH-XDZ, carrying skydivers crashed into the woods. In addition to the pilot there were ten skydivers on board. The pilot and two skydivers managed to bail out of the aircraft. Eight skydivers died in the collision with the ground.

The OH-XDZ was the first turboprop aircraft in the experimental category in Finland. It was built in Finland from an aircraft kit.

The Tampere Skydiving Club’s (TamLK) skydiving event “Easter Boogie” was in progress at Jämijärvi aerodrome. Finland’s Sport Aviators’ Comp Air 8 aircraft was reserved for the event; with it skydivers were being carried to the altitude of 4 000 m.

The eighth Comp Air flight of the day reached the jump run, which was at 4 230 m over the southern runway of the aerodrome. The skydivers noticed that they had overshot the jump run and requested a new one from the pilot. The pilot increased engine power and simultaneously began turning to the left. During the turn the aircraft began to descend and its airspeed increased, which the pilot did not immediately realise. The pilot pulled on the control stick and the aircraft levelled out or went into a shallow climb. He reduced engine power to idle, in conjunction with which the airflow over the horizontal stabiliser probably decreased suddenly, which generated a rapid nose down movement. As the angle of attack was decreasing a downward force was generated on the wing. The right wing’s wing strut buckled upwards and the right wing folded down against the jump door around the wing root mountings. The aircraft lost its controllability instantaneously and began to rotate around its vertical axis in a flight condition resembling an inverted spin.

In the aircraft a decision to make an emergency jump was made. The wing which had folded against the jump door prevented exiting through the door. The pilot and two skydivers sitting at the front of the airplane bailed out through the pilot’s door. The others did not have enough time to bail out. They died in the collision with the ground. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the collision and the fire.

There were several eyewitnesses to the accident and the emergency call was made immediately. The first third parties reached the accident site within six minutes. Skydivers on the ground immediately started a search to locate the ones that had bailed out of the aircraft. The first rescue unit reached the site 13 minutes after the accident. The number of survivors remained uncertain for a long time. The last victim was found inside the wreckage four hours after the accident.

The investigation revealed that it was likely that the centre of gravity of the aircraft was outside the flight manual’s aft limit on the jump run. The rating requirements for pilots in skydiving operations are incompatible with the demands of the activity.

When the material of the right wing strut was analysed it became clear that there was a fatigue crack on the inner surface of the wing strut. The crack had formed over a long period of time and it was impossible to detect in visual inspections. No other pre-existing technical fault was found in the investigation of the wreckage.

A winglet structure was installed on both wings of the aircraft; the design comprised a wing extension at the plane of the wing and a winglet. The Permit to build-application did not mention these, nor had their effects on the aircraft’s structural strength or flight characteristics been established prior to commencing the construction. According to the results of an analysis commissioned for the investigation the wing modifications increased the aerodynamic loads on the aircraft. The kit manufacturer had presented the load calculations of the original aircraft, but they were not given to the builders.

According to calculations the safety factor for the wing strut’s actual stress resistance, given in the Permit to build, did not materialise at -1.8 g at the maximum weight. The minimum requirement as per Aviation Regulations was met.

Coordination and communication between the authorities that participated in the rescue operation did not succeed on all fronts; however, this had no bearing on the onset or extent of the damage. The need for psychosocial support was great. Later there were shortcomings in the arrangements for psychosocial support.

The cause of the accident was that the stress resistance of the right wing’s wing strut was exceeded as a result of the force which was generated by a negative g-force. The force which resulted in the buckling of the wing strut was the direct result of a negative (nose-down) change in pitching moment, in conjunction with an engine power reduction intended to decrease the high airspeed.

The contributing factors were the following:

  • There was a fatigue crack on the wing strut. Because of the damage to the aircraft it was not possible to investigate the mechanism of the fatigue crack formation. It is possible that, in addition to the stress caused to the aircraft by short flights and high takeoff weights, the temperature changes caused by the jet blast as well as vibration contributed to the fatigue cracking.
  • The nature of skydiving operations generated many takeoffs and landings in relation to flight hours. A significant part of the operations was flown close to the maximum takeoff weight. These factors increased the structural stress.
  • The pilot’s limited flight experience on a powerful turboprop aircraft, his inadequate training as regards aircraft loading and its effects on the centre of gravity and airplane behaviour, the high weight of the aircraft and the aft position of the CG in the beginning of a new jump line and, possibly, the pilot’s incorrect observation of the actual visual horizon contributed to the onset of the occurrence.
    During the turn to a new jump run the aircraft began to descend and very rapidly accelerated close to its maximum permissible airspeed. The pilot did not immediately realise this.
  • The structural modifications on the wing increased the loads on the aircraft and the wing struts. Their effects had not been established beforehand. The kit manufacturer was aware of the modifications. No changes to the Permit to build were applied for in writing regarding the modifications. Neither the build supervisor nor the aircraft inspectors were aware of the origin or the effects of the modifications.

As a result of the investigation the Safety Investigation Authority, Finland issued five recommendations; three to the Finnish Transport Safety Authority, one to the European Aviation Safety Agency and one to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The Finnish Transport Safety Authority should:

  • Limit the number of occupants in experimental aircraft and their use in skydiving operations based on risk considerations.
  • Ensure that the experience and training of persons that supervise and inspect experimental aircraft construction meet the requirements of construction and modification control, and
  • In conjunction with the recreational aviation safety project, ensure that the Finnish Aeronautical Association prepares generic guidelines for skydiving operations, around which associations build a training programme and proficiency checks for jump pilots.

The SIAF recommends that the European Aviation Safety Agency prepare specified theoretical knowledge and flight training requirements for pilots-in-command in skydiving operations.

The SIAF repeats the recommendation to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health which was originally issued by the Investigation Commission of the Kauhajoki School Shooting in 2008. The Ministry should take steps to ensure that the plans, resources, responsibilities, and competent leadership for the provision of psychosocial support in major crises are available regardless of where the accident takes place or where the people involved come from.

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2015 USPA Dropzone Operator Conference

The United States Parachute Association once again hosted the Dropzone Operators Conference in conjunction with the Board of Directors meeting and alongside the Parachute Industry Association’s biennial symposium in Daytona Beach, FL on Monday March 29th. It was very exciting to attend and see so many familiar faces (I had not attended since 2009 in Reno, NV) and many new faces.

A reception was held Sunday night. I had the pleasure of speaking with “the movers and shakers” of the industry along with brand new Dropzone Owners. It was exciting to run down the benefits of DiverDriver.com and the concept of how the new Jump Pilot can use the website.

Many thanks go directly to Randy Ottinger, Director of Government Relations for USPA who initially suggested I attend. Thanks also go to USPA Executive Director Ed Scott and USPA President Sherry Butcher. Your hospitality is much appreciated and I look forward to many years of working collaboratively on issues affecting flight operations at our many (AND GROWING) dropzones.

As I reported to you before, USPA has asked and I have donated guidance on jump plane formation flying from this website. It has been incorporated into USPA’s material available to all. At the beginning of the conference Randy Ottinger kindly acknowledged this contribution. The rest of the day was packed with very informative speakers and conference sponsors. Of looming concern is the deadline in 2020 for ADS-B installations on all aircraft utilizing the National Airspace System. Cost has been coming down in recent years. The concern is that operators will wait so long for price to decrease that when they act to install there will be no capacity left with the avionics shops available in the USA. Those who have and have used ADS-B so far have very positive things to say on improving situational awareness. Whether there is a deadline coming or not you can start taking advantage of ADS-B “in” today. The mandate for ADS-B “out” comes in 2020 and is unlikely to shift as the FAA is keenly interested in cutting costs by reducing ground based radar sites.

Following the ADS-B presentation, Bryan Burke from Skydive Arizona spoke on “The Next Generation of Risk”. He spoke of how the sport has evolved and what trends we have seen in past decades with fatalities. How does this effect you as the DiverDriver? If you are not a jumper already you my have difficulty conceptualizing the needs of jumpers in different skydiving disciplines. There are more disciplines now than every before in skydiving and “mixing traffic” can be daunting. SDA has taken time to try and address these special concerns especially with regards to wingsuit and angle/tracking jumps.

After a short break we returned to the hall to hear Rich Grimm speak about emergency preparedness. Now, this is not exactly the purview of the jump pilot to take action if they see someone hurt or witness and accident. But your nature as human being wanting to solve problems will drive you to act. So, get some training and read through Rich’s great material. Frist, don’t panic. Nothing worse than people running around yelling and screaming at each other. Use radios or go TO the person you need to talk to. Be clear, and direct. Be clear and direct if you have the need to contact emergency responders. They will need information so they can send the appropriate response. And most importantly to you as a DiverDriver was a discussion on whether or not to suspend jump operations if there is a serious injury.

Next up was a talk from Tom “Mr. Everest” Noonan on the goings on with  tandem jumping and safety. How does this effect you? Well near the end of his discussion Tom displayed a photo of a Caravan in nose down vertical descent near background of a tandem in drogue fall. That photo has been feature here last year when I spoke out about “The money shot”. It’s not worth it. You don’t get down faster. It is only harder on your aircraft and reduces your safety margins with the passengers who trust you.

Well it was a fantastic time and way more than I could ever type out fully here. Just know that I highly recommend attending the Dropzone Operators Conference in two years along with the PIA symposium. Cross pollinating helps all improve the safety of the sport we love and the industry we work in.

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Formation Flying Guidance accepted by USPA

I am very honored to have the guidance I have written on jump plane formation flying accepted and reproduced on the United States Parachute Association’s website.

Why has this been done now? In November of 2013 two skydiving planes collided while on a formation load at Skydive Superior in Superior, WI. To my knowledge this is the only inflight collision of two jump planes in my database going back to 1982. Should this be of great concern? Well, it’s one occurrence. But it was felt that the dynamics of flying jumpers have changed enough over the last two decades that there are fewer small Cessna dropzones. The experience in how to perform these formations has potentially decreased across the industry. Before we get a “trend” of more accidents, staff at USPA HQ and I collaborated to have my formation load guidance edited and reproduced by permission in their Group Member Program. This a very proactive move ahead of any potential NTSB recommendations like the ones that came out after the Special Investigative Report on skydiving operations in September 2008. In that case, the USPA responded by utilizing the Jump Pilot Training Syllabus and Written Test from this website. The NTSB classified the items “Closed – Exceeds Recommended Action”.

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History repeats itself….almost.

About a year ago I made a blog post here about whether the “money shot” (rolling hard after last jumper was out so that you could dive past the freefalling jumper) was worth it. I added video and a graphic photo of what the collision with a freefall photographer’s face looks like. However, a Porter pilot at Thai Sky Adventures decided his metal was better.

Behold:

 

Please, just stop. Stop doing this. There is nothing to gain. You will be hard on an airplane that is likely older than you. And if you hit someone even if you don’t kill them, you will live with that on your conscience for the rest of your life.

Please, just stop doing rollover descents.

 

 

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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

The question about whether single-engine planes versus multi-engine planes are safer has been asked recently. Until now I had not grouped the jump plane accidents here in those types of categories. You can click here to see the results that will update as accidents are added to the database.

The database goes from present day back to 1982. In the USA there are 256 single-engine jump plane accidents (flying skydivers, ferry flights and maintenance flights). There are 65 multi-engine accidents. Does this make multi-engine planes safer? If you look at fatal accidents for each kind we find 16% of single-engine accidents were fatal while 38% of multi-engine accidents were fatal. So, if you are in an accident in a multi-engine plane you are much more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. But again, does this make multi-engine planes more dangerous? If there is an engine failure event many pilots would prefer a multi-engine plane as modern twins will usually continue to climb on one operating engine rather than being forced to descend as in the case of a single-engine plane. Many times in a multi-engine plane the aircraft circles back for a normal landing at the departure airport and is a “non-event”. In single engine planes you are committed to a landing wherever you are. Some pilots attempt the “impossible turn” back to the departure runway after takeoff which is not just a 180 degree turn but rather 360 in total resulting in loss of control and crashing with fatal results.

So why might there be so fewer total accidents in multi-engine planes? Generally, multi-engine pilots have more flight experience. They are likely to have taken more check rides which allows for more opportunities to learn from experienced pilots. They are likely to have an instrument rating which teaches the pilot the importance of smooth aircraft control and increased scanning of the instruments. Basically, they are more aware of what the plane is doing.

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Thank you for your support!

November 22, 2013 saw the official re-launch of DiverDriver.com. I want to thank Christy West for her unfailing dedication to helping me see this website flourish.  If it wasn’t for her I could not do what you see now.  Also, this December will be the 14th anniversary of the original launch of the website in 2000.

In the past year there have been 14,704 unique visitors from around the world. Obviously the highest number come from the United States and Canada. But many visitors are from UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland.  All told there have been visitors from 151 different countries / territories. That is truly AWESOME!  This could only have happened with all of YOU supporting the site and promoting it among your friends and coworkers in the skydiving industry.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

-Chris Schindler