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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

Loss of Control – Stall and Spin Awareness

Transcript for Loss of Control – Stall and Spin Awareness

A difficulty to recover from an out-of-control right-hand spin on a training flight above Selsey Bill in West Sussex serves as a vital reminder to pilots to be aware of and to apply correct spin recovery techniques and overall flight safety measures.

The instructor and his student had been practising spins on a previous flight with no issues reported.

And, during the flight in question in October 2021, they again took part in spins, recovering each time to an altitude of around 5,500 feet.

The instructor reports that their student was flying the Firefly aircraft correctly and made two spins to the left, which were recovered safely as expected.

For a third spin during the flight, the student was asked to demonstrate the recovery technique and to recover the aircraft to the right. Despite spin entry and initial rotation all being normal, this spin caused the aircraft to be dangerously unresponsive to attempts to recover from it.

The T67 Firefly is known to have unusual spin characteristics which require a full and specific recovery technique: throttle closed, flaps up, full opposite rudder, pause, progressive, central, and forward movement of the control column were applied.

The instructor had called for the spin to be recovered after two turns, and they report the correct actions were taken. However, the aircraft continued to rotate and spin downwards at pace and with a steep nose down attitude. At this stage, the instructor took full control of the aircraft in an attempt to exert some control over the spin and bring the aircraft into recovery.

The instructor discovered that the student had correctly applied full rudder but with an inch or so room left to drive the control column further forward.

The instructor rectified the issue, but even with the full opposite rudder and the nose-down state of the aircraft, it continued in its spin.

Worryingly, the aircraft was quickly losing altitude. The instructor tried an into-spin aileron, which didn’t arrest the dive before recovering the aircraft using the out-of-spin aileron technique.

The aircraft had dropped to 1,800 feet during the spin, and the pair climbed away on their return to Shoreham Airport without further incident.

Both the instructor and the student were wearing parachutes during the flight.

Post-flight checks revealed no apparent damage to the tail or rudder, and full rudder appeared to be still available. No defects were found in the tech log.

Following a thorough investigation of the aircraft, the circumstances of the flight and the instructor’s description of the incident, the CAA confirmed that the incident had been a high-rotational spin.

Our report found that although the correct recovery actions were followed, the incident most likely occurred due to inadequate rudder application during the initial recovery.

This resulted in full opposite rudder not being achieved by the time the control column was moved forward. This, coupled with the control column not being moved forward enough, stopped the aircraft from being recovered.

It was also concluded that the out-of-spin aileron hadn’t arrested the spin; its application and the spin ending were coincidental.

Pilots should use this incident as a vital reminder of the importance of being aware of their aircraft’s spin recovery guidance and techniques, as these may differ between aircraft types. Information specific to your aircraft can be found in the Pilots Operating Handbook.  

This incident also demonstrates the importance of confidently using proper recovery technique, as the failure to make full control inputs can exacerbate some situations.  

Pilots should familiarise themselves with how to use the Emergency Response Plan to investigate incidents.

Lastly, this incident could have had a catastrophic outcome. The instructor and the pilot were both wearing parachutes, and the incident serves as an essential reminder to crews to not just wear parachutes but to be aware of and practised in using them.

Further important advice is available in the CAA’s Safety Sense Leaflet on Loss of Control: Stall & Spin Awareness.

Let’s all fly safe.


Flying over gliding sites

Transcript for Flying over gliding sites

Flying over gliding sites puts lives at risk

Almost all gliding sites in the UK use a winch launch, where gliders are launched with a winch and steel cable instead of being towed by an aircraft.

90% of sites winch launch to at least 2,000 ft above ground level.

So, if you see a gliding site marked on a chart or moving map it’s safe to assume cables could be overhead at any time during daylight hours.

A glider will go from ground to over 1,000 feet AGL in about 20 seconds, so a pilot won’t see the launch happening from the air.

Spotting the glider as it climbs will be too late.

The danger hasn’t passed once the glider is released either, as you won’t see the cable as it descends under a small parachute for another 20 to 30 seconds.

Flying over an active winch launch gliding site puts lives at risk.

So, what should a pilot of a powered aircraft or helicopter do?

Look for the location of gliding sites and check the altitude to which they operate when you plan your flight.

A VFR paper chart will show the site marked with a blue circle and a G, with a figure in thousands of feet AMSL telling how far the cable may extend.

For example, G/3.3 shows that the cable launch can operate to, and be released at up to, 3,300 feet above mean sea level rather than above ground level.

On most moving maps the site is shown with a glider symbol, but no maximum cable altitude is shown.

So, you may have to work through a menu to reveal the details, by selecting the ‘location and review’ tab at the side of the screen where the altitude will be listed along with waypoints and radio services.
The gliding site altitude only refers to the maximum altitude of the cable. So, you should also plan for gliders being towed or in free flight around a launch site and above the annotated altitude.

Whatever you use to plan your flight you'll find gliding site details in the UK AIP at ENR 5.5 Aerial Sporting and Recreational Activities
This includes winch heights above ground level and site elevations above mean sea level.

If you are a glider pilot or club member, it’s really important to record and report overflight occurrences to the British Gliding Association, which has an incident reporting form on its website.

Your club might have its own incident book or system to record the information they need.

If the overflying aircraft caused danger and compromised safety, you should report an Airprox.

The UK Airprox Board will accept an overflight report from a responsible ground observer, instructor or duty pilot as they understand the 'lookout limitations' of a winch launching glider pilot.

Pilots of powered aircraft and helicopters should avoid gliding sites at all times. Only ever fly over them if you have had positive confirmation from the site that they are not active.

Flying with an active carbon monoxide detector

Transcript for Flying with an active carbon monoxide detector

Have you ever had a flying experience you wished you had shared earlier, do you learn from others in the flying community and talk about your experiences to help everyone else to stay safe? It's never too late to learn from mistakes and experiences. This is a real life example of where human factors can have a positive and negative impact on flights, and our capacity as pilots to properly understand or manage the situations we find ourselves in.

It was like any other autumnal day.  Very cold and with a stiff breeze but otherwise fine. I thought there might have been a few more launches that day as it was possibly going to be one of the last flyable days before winter before the airfield becomes waterlogged. I was doing something I had done many times before. Providing a tow launch for gliders at my local club. I was the sole user of the aircraft that day and had been the day before too. I had no reason to think that the aircraft was anything but serviceable, but I conducted my pre-flight checks as normal. With the cowlings off I checked the fluids, saw that nothing was loose, I fuelled up and checked the toe rope, all the usual things. Looking back perhaps my checks weren't quite as thorough as usual. I’d flown the day before and I’d also completed the aircraft's 50-hour service, but I was happy, I was looking forward to flying conditions were good and I felt fine and well-rested.

Our aircraft has a commercial, off-the-shelf, active carbon monoxide detector in the oddments packet, in the panel. It's a sealed unit, with a battery life of 10 years, and I tested it before it was put in the aircraft. The glider pilots were coming out in reasonable numbers after I’d conducted my pre-flight checks. It wasn't amazingly soreable so it was likely I’d be towing on and off all day. Some training was going on too, so some of those flights would be shorter and more launches needed. Nothing unusual about that. I was happy because I like flying. The little grid had built at the launch and the rope was attached and the release checked. I was ready to start launching.

I started the aircraft without any trouble. As it was a cold day, I had the cabin heater on with all the vents closed. With the temperature nearing ready I taxied up to the launch point, I completed my final checks once the glider was hooked up. The usual calls to “take up slack” were made and soon it was “all out”. Meaning we were ready to take off. Initial acceleration was normal, and the aircraft was performing as expected for the first turn of the day. I’m always at a heightened state of alert. The glider pilot behind me was someone I trusted but my fingers were locked around the release. As ever T's and P’s appeared fine, and the climb rate acceptable, glider on the back was in the right position and I could see them in the mirror. At around 500 feet, the cabin jarred to the piercing sound of the active carbon monoxide detector going off. It was loud, even with my headset on. I turned the heater off as my first action, and then pushed the little vents open in the windows. I still needed to keep focused on flying as I have a glider relying on me. I made a gentle turn back towards the airfield, called the tower on the radio and told them what I was doing.

I got into a good position and waved the glider off by waggling my wings, they dutifully released, and I was able to go to idle power and head for the ground before they would need to land. Thankfully the carbon monoxide detector wasn't sounding anymore, and I made an uneventful landing. The glider came in shortly after. I was shaken up and had a bit of a headache, but thought it was probably more psychological than physical. I was relieved to be back on the ground the alarm had potentially prevented me from spending a day being exposed to lethal doses of carbon monoxide. Who knows how I might have become impaired by it. Just getting a gulp of fresh air does not get the carbon monoxide out of your bloodstream. Low level exposure over the day can make you very unwell. The active carbon monoxide alarm certainly surprised me, it's worth knowing what it sounds like, so you know what's happening and how to silence it if you need to. The alarm sound can be heard through your headset which is comforting. Remember: aviate, navigate and communicate. In that order. If I’d had released the glider, or lost control because the alarm surprised me, then it could have been a very different outcome.

After further inspection, it turned out the aircraft's exhaust had developed a crack under the heater shroud. If exhaust gases leak, this can result in carbon monoxide in the cockpit. It is odourless and tasteless and produces headaches, drowsiness or dizziness. High concentrations can cause unconsciousness and death. This was not inspected as part of the 50-hour check, it has since been added to the routine checklist. Our active carbon monoxide detector is tested too, and pilots briefed on how to use it and how it sounds. I definitely recommend flying with an active carbon monoxide detector. They're cheap, easy to use and could save your life. It is something we have in our homes as standard practice so worthwhile and an essential investment. Just make sure you know what to do when it goes off, and that it isn't a loose article in the cockpit. Oh, and don't neglect a check of your cabin heater either.

Ensuring there are checks are made when the aircraft is in for maintenance and carrying an active carbon monoxide detector will help mitigate the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Your life and those of others could depend on it.

Flying in Cloud

Transcript for Flying in Cloud

The case of flight G-EGVA serves as a vital safety reminder to all pilots about flying in cloud over water and land and the importance of being licensed to fly in different weather conditions.

G-EGVA had been planned using flight planning and navigation apps and would have operated at 5000ft. Convective cloud was forecast along their route over the English Channel.

As the flight reached the middle of the channel at around 9.15am one of the pilots, operating under visual flight rules (VFR), radioed to say they were encountering cloud.

Neither of the pilots were qualified to fly in cloud, and neither held an instrument rating or an IMC qualification. Shortly after its last transmission, flight G-EGVA disappeared from radar.  

G-EGVA had been planned using flight planning and navigation apps and would have operated at 5000ft. The flight should have taken an hour and 38 minutes.Evidence shows pre-flight plans were not shared between the fly-out pilots and each of them on the trip made their own weather assessments.

Everything had appeared normal as the G-EGVA flight pilots posted videos of them passing Shoreham-by-Sea at 8.46am.

Heavy cumulus clouds can be seen quite clearly ahead of the flight across the English Channel.

Both pilots were wearing their shoulder harnesses under their lifejackets, potentially risking entanglement in an accident.

Radar showed the aircraft at 5,000ft, then descending to 3,000ft before climbing to 7,000ft, possibly to try and avoid the cloud cover.

It’s unknown whether the pilots entered the cloud without realising, but video evidence and reports from the other fly-out pilots revealed the cloud, and some waterspouts were clearly visible. Other pilots on the trip flew around the cloud and one diverted to Shoreham -by-Sea

But on G-EGVA, both pilots had flown through cloud before without issues. Was it this confidence that made them press on?

At 9.16am, the last radar record shows G-EGVA descending rapidly 20nm west of Le Touquet. It’s hazardous to enter cloud when not qualified to do so and outside of instrument flying practice and the AAIB has had to investigate many accidents when control has been lost in cloud.

Let’s stay safe, fly within our limits, plan ahead, respect the weather and be prepared to divert.

For more advice, read the CAA’s Safety Sense Leaflet Pilots – It’s Your Decision leaflet, review the Skyway Code on pre-flight weather decision making and see the lifejacket advice in the CAA Safety Sense leaflet Ditching.

Flying in Winter

Transcript for Flying in Winter

Flying in winter, the days are getting shorter and it's getting colder out there. Late autumn and winter can be a fun and beautiful time to fly. It can pose some challenges you'll need to be ready for 14 to the skies.

Do you feel confident about flying and what could be more adverse weather conditions? Do you have the skills and experience to deal with a sudden change in the weather, or an unexpected event? There are some things you can do to prepare for the challenges of flying during autumn and winter.

You could think about having a refresher flight with an instructor or chat through the challenges the different scenarios flying at this time of year can present. Ask for help or ask someone to look at your flight plans just to give them a sense check.

Review the CAA's Safety Sense leaflet number three dedicated to winter flying. There is a summary page inside offering handy tips and make sure you have an active and working carbon monoxide detector on board. There'll be more details on that later.

Here's a few more tips. Make sure you plan your route according to the conditions and think about how they might have an impact throughout your flight. And overnight frost might delay departures and reduce daylight hours for flying. For example, plan navigation points that will be down sun to aid visibility and take into account the glare that occurs late in the day.

Flying landing or even taxiing in a westerly direction at sunset can be no visibility at all. Take a few moments to review your aircraft's performance data weight and balance as grant conditions may be variable affecting takeoff and landing distances. daylight and airport operating hours are also much shorter in winter to remember, you will need a contingency plan in case bad weather has closed in it or destination or if headwinds are stronger than forecast. That may well mean having enough fuel reserves so you can land elsewhere, divert on route or even turn back towards home if the weather is severe. preflight checks are so important.

Everyone knows to remove ice and frost. But beware of leaving wings control surfaces and hinges wet. The clean aircraft concept is the only way to fly safely. There should be nothing on the outside of the aircraft that doesn't belong there.

Don't forget to check the pitot static system for water, which can freeze unblock the system. In the winter months freezing altitude can come below normal flying altitude and beware of carb icing following taxiing. wet grass can throw water droplets into the engine intake. There may be a greater risk of water in aircraft fuel tanks and winter. So remember those fuel drain checks before takeoff.

During the engine run up check that use of carburetor heat gives a satisfactory drop in rpm or manifold pressure. Consider how much the conditions change during the time before takeoff to for instance, is the wind speed including gusts near your aircraft or personal crosswind limit. Double check that car monoxide detector to and always live by that pilot saying expect the weather to be 30% Worse than predicted. Once you're airborne. Practice a low level circuit in case the cloud is lower than expected. Work out the freezing level and avoid flying through moisture above that altitude. No matter how light or inviting it may be. The smaller the droplets the more likely they are to be super cold and freeze rapidly to a cold aircraft.

When near cloud consider a burst of copy to avoid carb icing. Should ice form get out of the conditions promptly by descending whilst being aware of high ground of course, climbing or diverting. If you encounter ice, tell ATC so that others can be warned cabretta ice forms stealthily. So monitor engine instruments for loss of RPM, fixed pitch propeller or manifold pressure constant speed propeller, they can be signs that carb ice is forming us the proper procedures at the right time can prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

You should be ready to divert your route at any time and don't put yourself under pressure to get home should the weather close in. When it's cold, you're more likely to use a heater, many of which use air warmed by the exhaust manifold. If exhaust gases leak it could result in carbon monoxide in the cockpit.

Carbon monoxide is odourless and tasteless and can result in headaches, drowsiness or dizziness. In high concentrations it can cause unconsciousness, and death. Carbon monoxide detectors can one have a leak that only the advanced electronic sensors will actively engage a pilot's attention. We have them in our homes, our standard practice and it's an essential investment for the winter flyer. If you experience any of these symptoms or smell exhaust fumes, switch off the heating and open the air vents.

So flying in late autumn and winter can be a wonderful experience. But please make sure you are fully prepared, informed and of course have that all important carbon monoxide detector onboard. Enjoy your flight

Return to Flying - pre-flight checklist

Transcript for Returning to flying - pre flight checklist

When preparing for your first flight consider the following points and reminders. When did you last fly? I your skills up to scratch.

Consider taking your first flight with an instructor or discussing scenarios with them beforehand and what you would do if they occurred. Is your maps done in date? Should you go flying with someone else on your first flight? They can provide support, encouragement and help spot traffic. Don't be afraid to ask for help. DND is always ready to assist.

Conduct a thorough check of the aircraft paying close attention to wildlife. For example, insects in the PETA intake or nests under the cowling? Has the aircraft been knocked while it's been in the hangar is the fuel in the tank still usable. If it's been standing for a long time, it may have degraded this will affect the aircraft's performance. If it smells or looks different to normal, consider changing the tanks, your maintenance on the aircraft up to date.

Check if there have been any operational changes are taxiways, for example, to keep parked aircraft. If flying from a grass strip, it may not have been cut for significant time. And sure you factor long grass into performance calculations as it could drastically increase takeoff distance.

Check the airfield or the one you may be planning to visit it's actually open and operating. Is your flight back prepared? Do you still have your extra pair of flying glasses in there are your ratings and medical valid? Do you need to take disinfectant or hand sanitizer to clean the cockpit. The facilities at the airfield may not be open unavailable. Make sure your electronic devices are fully charged and software has been updated. Remind yourself how to use your moving map equipment.

Make sure you give yourself time to plan your route. Check for any changes to charts and ensure you are aware of any known infringement hotspots.

Are you feeling well? used the im safe mnemonic to check in with yourself. Illness, medication, stress, alcohol fatigue eating because it is spending extra time running through the emergencies before you head off and know which checklists to use and where to find them. Pay close attention to no terms.

Check the weather, remind yourself of where you would go as a backup and what you do if you're in university and to cloud. Consider the services you wish to use during the flight and expect the NSPS will have reduced capacity. Think about using frequency monitoring codes and listening in if you don't wish to receive a service, pay attention to operational surfaces. When taxiing out, check the brakes. If they haven't been used in a while. They may not be as effective until they've been used a number of times.

Keep your first few flights simple. Allow yourself time to get back up to your previous flying standard without extra pressure. Consider taking the aircraft on a short local aid or a flight before the first cross country. Don't be afraid to ask for help. DND is always ready to assist. Look to your associations, your flying clubs and schools to they are experts and are there to keep you informed and above all safe.

Remember, if you're not flying with an instructor and you don't feel up to scratch with your abilities, don't fly