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How Long to Survive LOC-I?

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According to Boeing and NASA, what’s the average time available to the pilot after an airplane upset that the pilot can still avoid a fatal crash?

a. ≈ 5 seconds
b. ≈ 10 seconds 
c. ≈ 30 seconds
d. ≈ 60 seconds

In a paper titled “Defining Commercial Transport Loss-of-Control: A Quantitative Approach,” authors James Wilborn of Boeing and John Foster of NASA took a look at Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) accidents involving airline aircraft and determined that the average time available for the flight crew to recover from an airplane upset was about about 9.5 seconds. Click here to read more about the time critical nature of airplane upset recovery, and read below to find out what this means for UPRT.

The Crucial Implications

Inappropriate pilot response is one of the main causes of fatal LOC-I related accidents. Because pilots have so little time to perform the correct manual inputs, and because these required inputs are often counter-intuitive and must be performed under highly stressful circumstances, most pilots who have not had dedicated Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) will not be able to recover their aircraft within the Critical Window of time available in an unexpected upset situation.

In order for a UPRT program to effectively teach these time critical prevention and recovery skills, it must effectively integrate the 6 Critical UPRT Implementation Factors outlined in the Every Pilot In Control Solution Standard™. One of those factors that is key to pilot response is:

Intensity of training: Pilots must have sufficient time practicing, applying, and refining unique upset prevention and recovery skills. Utilized over a period of several days, this training intensity ensures that the skills learned are ingrained and become second nature should they encounter an LOC-I situation months or even a couple of years after training. Additionally, training must approximate as closely as possible the conditions a pilot would experience in a real-world upset so that pilots can overcome the incapacitating human factors of an upset such as startle and surprise.

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