Gliders

null

In 2020, the BEA published 28 reports concerning glider accidents.
Five topics are particularly dominant in these reports:

null

1. Safety margin with respect to terrain

It is usual for a glider to use uplifts close to the terrain. The safety margins are reduced and the height of the manoeuvres do not always permit the pilot to regain control of the glider. 

When the uplifts are weak or narrow, pilots may be tempted to carry out spirals at low height and to reduce speed and/or increase bank to be better centred in the uplifts and improve the climb performance while remaining close to the terrain. In so doing, the risk of a loss of control is increased. The rules for performing manoeuvres should therefore be complied with.

It is mentioned in the Glider pilot manual that spiralling in thermal uplifts must always be carried out at a sufficient height above the terrain and at least at 150 to 200 m. Below this height, figures-of-eight should be carried out into the wind, with the glider flying towards the slope on a tangent path from a wide turn started at a distance from the terrain.

The Safety in Mountain Flying manual available on the CNVV (French gliding federation) websiterecommends that the pilot is always aware of the flight path of his glider, taking into account its speed, its angle of bank and the wind.

The report concerning the accident to D-KIST on 16 July 2019 at Valernes illustrates this safety topic.

Similar occurrences published in 2020: 
•    D-KFMH on 13 September 2019 at Saint-Pons.

•    F-CGSH on 30 May 2019 at Castillon-en-Couserans.
•    HB-3297 on 16 July 2019 atThorame-Basse.
•    HB-2417 on 22 July 2019 at La Javie.

Three people were fatally injured, one person was seriously injured and two people were injured in the occurrences mentioned.


2. Pre-flight check and performance of pre-take-off safety actions 

The pre-flight check and pre-take-off safety actions are used to ensure, notably, that the glider has been correctly rigged and is in the correct configuration.

In 2019, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published Safety Information Bulletin (SIB No 2019-07) about good practices regarding glider rigging. This bulletin, only published in English, was adopted and translated into French in the “Actions Vitales” bulletin of June 2019 published by the French glider federation, the FFVP.  In this document, the importance of being familiar with the type of glider, in particular for older types, is especially mentioned. It is also specified that after rigging, the checks must include the securing of the connections (pin or other system). It is indicated that the connections which are not correctly secured may go undetected in positive control checks: the correct attachment can only be checked by a manual inspection by turning, pulling or shaking the bolt and by carrying out an additional visual inspection. Several types of connections and locking systems are described in this SIB.

The use of the CRIS checklist, which has been standardized at FFVP club level, permits the user to check the configuration of the glider and all the safety items before take-off.

The report concerning the accident to F-CAJC on 30 October 2019 at Issoire illustrates this safety topic.

Similar occurrences published in 2020: 
•    F-CIBD on 13 April 2019 at Avize.

•    F-CELH on 2 May 2008 at Arnage.
•    F-CFAL on 25 June 2019 at Laval.
•    F-CLBG on 28 October 2019 at Le Havre Saint-Romain.

Two people were fatally injured and two people were seriously injured in the occurrences mentioned.


3. Prevention of cartwheels (loss of control during take-off run)

During the take-off run, whether it is a towed or winch take-off, the pilot must, as soon as he detects that he cannot hold the wings horizontal, actuate the release handle as early as possible in order to avoid cartwheeling with catastrophic consequences. He must act before a wing touches the ground, in a dynamic, even very dynamic flight phase, during a winch departure. 

The FFVP training-safety commission published an article in the Q3 2019 issue of the “Planeur Info” federation review about a procedure which consists of holding the yellow handle during the initial take-off acceleration.

A video describing the cartwheel phenomenon, made in 2019, is accessible from the light aviation safety portal. In this video, it is mentioned that the pilot must absolutely grasp the release handle just before the cable becomes taut, whether it be a towed or winch take-off. This recommendation is now indicated at the bottom of the reverse side of the “CRIS” pre-take-off vital actions checklist, which has been standardized at FFVP club level.

These lessons are based, in particular, on the report concerning the accident to HB-3362 on 28 May 2019 at Vinon.

Similar occurrences published in 2020: 
•    F-CTZT on 17 June 2018 at Chartres Métropole.

•    F-CECS on 7 July 2019 at Mont-Dauphin Saint-Crépin.

No occupant was injured in the occurrences mentioned.


4. Always having a precautionary landing option

It is important that at all times the pilot has the possibility of reaching an aerodrome or safe landing area during cross-country flights.

The report concerning the accident to F-CLIN on 31 May 2019 at Bonneville illustrates this safety topic.

Similar occurrence published in 2020: 
•    D-KVNO on 29 August 2019 at Vernet.

One person was injured in the occurrences mentioned.


5. Reconnaissance and detecting obstacles during an off-field landing

It is essential to carry out a reconnaissance during an off-field landing. It is sometimes very difficult to detect obstacles. This is especially the case for power lines which are located by detecting the poles which hold them. The poles can be identified directly when there is a sufficient contrast with the ground or indirectly by the shadow cast onto the ground.

Not all the obstacles are necessarily detected during the reconnaissance and the pilot must be vigilant until landing.

The report concerning the accident to F-CGOX on 18 July 2019 at Solferino illustrates this safety topic.

Similar occurrence published in 2020: 
•    F-CEVN on 10 June 2017 at Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard.

One person was seriously injured and one person was injured in the occurrences mentioned.