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If it Goes Wrong

By far the majority of flights go without incident. However, your day can go wrong, especially if you have rushed your flight preparation or are not fully fit to fly.

Sometimes an incident is minor or recoverable, without major upset, and a learning point for the future. But if things do go wrong, above all else, remember your training and AVIATE first,  then NAVIGATE then COMMUNICATE.

Some incidents require you to make a mandatory occurrence report (MOR). Even if you are not required to make a report, in the interests of wider aviation safety, you can voluntarily report a situation that you regarded as a danger to you, your passengers, others and /or your aircraft.

Notwithstanding any mandatory reporting requirements, if you are in a position to do so:

1) Contact local Police and Emergency Services to appraise them of any need.

2) Contact the last ATSU you were in contact with to let them know the situation. 

3) Contact family, friends or anyone expecting you. News travels fast and, sometimes, inaccurately.

4) Contact the landowner if relevant.

5) Contact the aircraft owner or operator if it is not your aircraft.

6) Contact your insurer for advice if you are likely to make a claim.

7) Secure the aircraft as best as you can until it can be recovered.

8) If there is damage to the aircraft it should not be moved until the AAIB approve.

9) Even if it looks flyable DO NOT attempt to fly it until it has been inspected by a professional aircraft engineer.

Read more about options available to you and your obligations if things do go wrong, or you were put in a dangerous situation and you would like to make a voluntary report.

In 1997 the CAA published CAP 667, Review of General Aviation Fatal Accidents 1985-1994 which included the following:-

"There were a number of fatal accidents where a timely diversion or precautionary landing could have avoided an accident. In the UK there is a ‘culture’ of pressing on and hoping for the best rather accepting the inconvenience and cost of a diversion. This ‘culture’ needs to be changed, firstly by educating pilots and secondly by persuading aerodrome owners that there should be no charge for emergency landings or diversions. It is recommended that all aerodrome owners be persuaded to adopt a policy that there should be no charges for emergency landings or diversions by general aviation aircraft.”

Since then Charles Strasser on behalf of AOPA UK has campaigned to persuade aerodrome operators to accept that recommendation, to the benefit of all pilots, not just AOPA members.

To date the airfields/airports in the tables below have agreed this potentially lifesaving measure:

civilian airports strasser feb17 v3

This concession applies to genuine emergencies and precautionary diversions to airfields other than the destination and the planned alternate airport, made by GA pilots of aircraft less than 3 tonnes not flying for hire or reward.

The waiver of fees by the aerodrome does not necessarily mean the waiver of any ground-handling fees levied by a FBO at the aerodrome.

Wide awareness means that GA pilots in a difficult situation can at least eliminate the cost factor as a potential worry.  Attention is also drawn to the need of educating pilots of their responsibility in avoiding precautionary weather diversions by good flight planning before take off.

London Heathrow, London City and London Gatwick have not been approached to join the scheme.

Occurrence reporting in the UK and the rest of Europe is governed by European Regulation 376/2014.

An occurrence means any safety-related event which endangers or which, if not corrected or addressed, could endanger an aircraft, its occupants or any other person.

The purpose of occurrence reporting is to improve aviation safety by ensuring that relevant safety information relating to civil aviation is reported, collected, stored, protected, exchanged, disseminated and analysed. It is not to attribute blame or liability.

How to Report an Occurrence

When you submit your report, you need it to be in an ECCAIRS/ADREP compatible format.  The simplest way is to submit your report via the EU Reporting Portal.

Private pilots are required to report occurrences to the Member State that issued, validated or converted their pilot's licence.

What needs to be reported?

OCCURRENCES RELATED TO AIRCRAFT OTHER THAN COMPLEX MOTOR-POWERED AIRCRAFT, INCLUDING SAILPLANES AND LIGHTER-THAN-AIR VEHICLES

1.1.  Air operations 

(1) Unintentional loss of control. 
(2) Landing outside of intended landing area. 
(3) Inability or failure to achieve required aircraft performance expected climb or landing. 
(4) Runway incursion 
(5) Runway excursion. 
(6) Any flight which has been performed with an aircraft which was not airworthy, or for which flight preparation was not completed, which has or could have endangered the aircraft, its
(7) Unintended flight into IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) conditions flight rules) certified, or a pilot not qualified for IFR, which has or could occupants or any other person. 

1.2.  Technical occurrences

(1) Abnormal severe vibration (for example: aileron or elevator ‘flutter’, or of propeller).
(2) Any flight control not functioning correctly or disconnected. 
(3) A failure or substantial deterioration of the aircraft structure. 
(4) A loss of any part of the aircraft structure or installation in flight.(5) A failure of an engine, rotor, propeller, fuel system or other essential system. 
(6) Leakage of any fluid which resulted in a fire hazard or possible hazardous contamination of aircraft structure,systems or equipment, or risk to occupants.

1.3.  Interaction with air navigation services and air traffic management 

(1) Interaction with air navigation services (for example: incorrect services provided, conflicting communications or deviation from clearance) which has or could have endangered the aircraft, its occupants or any other person. 
(2) Airspace infringement.

1.4.  Emergencies and other critical situations

(1) Any occurrence leading to an emergency call. 
(2) Fire, explosion, smoke, toxic gases or toxic fumes in the aircraft. 
(3) Incapacitation of the pilot leading to inability to perform any duty.

1.5.  External environment and meteorology

(1) A collision on the ground or in the air, with another aircraft, terrain or obstacle (including a vehicle)
(2) A near collision, on the ground or in the air, with another aircraft, terrain or obstacle (including a vehicle) requiring an emergency avoidance manoeuvre to avoid a collision. 
(3) Wildlife strike including bird strike which resulted in damage to the aircraft or loss or malfunction of any essential service. 
(4) Interference with the aircraft by firearms, fireworks, flying kites, laser illumination, high powered lights lasers, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, model aircraft or by similar means. 
(5) A lightning strike resulting in damage to or loss of functions of the aircraft. 
(6) Severe turbulence encounter which resulted in injury to aircraft occupants or in the need for a post-flight turbulence damage check of the aircraft.
(7) Icing including carburettor icing which has or could have endangered the aircraft, its occupants or any other person.

2.  SAILPLANES (GLIDERS)

Remark: This Section is structured in such a way that the pertinent occurrences are linked with categories of activities during which they are normally observed, according to experience, in order to facilitate the reporting of those occurrences. However, this presentation must not be understood as meaning that occurrences must not be reported in case they take place outside the category of activities to which they are linked in the list.

2.1.  Air operations 

(1) Unintentional loss of control. 
(2) An occurrence where the sailplane pilot was unable to release either the winch cable or the aerotow rope and had to do so using emergency procedures. 
(3) Any release of the winch cable or the aerotow rope if the release has or could have endangered the sailplane, its occupants or any other person. 
(4) In the case of a powered sailplane, an engine failure during take-off. 
(5) Any f light which has been performed with a sailplane which was not airworthy, or for which an incomplete flight preparation has or could have endangered the sailplane, its occupants or any other person.

2.2.  Technical occurrences

(1) Abnormal severe vibration (for example: aileron or elevator ‘flutter’, or of propeller). 
(2) Any f light control not functioning correctly or disconnected. 
(3) A failure or substantial deterioration of the sailplane structure. 
(4) A loss of any part of the sailplane structure or installation in flight.

2.3.  Interaction with air navigation services and air traffic management 

(1) Interaction with air navigation services (for example: incorrect services provided, conflicting communications or deviation from clearance) which has or could have endangered the sailplane, its occupants or any other person. 
(2) Airspace infringements.

2.4.  Emergencies and other critical situations

(1) Any occurrence leading to an emergency call. 
(2) Any situation where no safe landing area remains available. 
(3) Fire, explosion, smoke, or toxic gases or fumes in the sailplane. 
(4) Incapacitation of the pilot leading to inability to perform any duty.

2.5.  External environment and meteorology

(1) A collision on the ground or in the air, with an aircraft, terrain or obstacle (including a vehicle)
(2) A near collision, on the ground or in the air, with an aircraft, terrain or obstacle (including a vehicle) requiring an emergency avoidance manoeuvre to avoid a collision. 
(3) Interference with the sailplane by firearms, fireworks, flying kites, laser illumination, high powered lights lasers, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, model aircraft or by similar means. 
(4) A lightning strike resulting in damage to the sailplane.

3.  LIGHTER-THAN-AIR VEHICLES (BALLOONS AND AIRSHIPS)

Remark : This Section is structured in such a way that the pertinent occurrences are linked with categories of activities during which they are normally observed, according to experience, in order to facilitate the reporting of those occurrences. However, this presentation must not be understood as meaning that occurrences must not be reported in case they take place outside the category of activities to which they are linked in the list.

3.1.  Air operations 

(1) Any flight which has been performed with a lighter-than-air vehicle which was not airworthy, or for which an incomplete f light preparation has or could have endangered the lighter-than-air vehicle, its occupants or any other person. 
(2) Unintended permanent extinction of the pilot light.

3.2.  Technical occurrences

(1) Failure of any of the following parts or controls: dip tube on fuel cylinder, envelope pulley, control line, tether rope, valve seal leak on burner, valve seal leak on fuel cylinder, carabiner, damage to fuel line, lifting gas valve, envelope or ballonet, blower, pressure relief valve (gas balloon), winch (tethered gas balloons). 
(2) Significant leakage or loss of lifting gas (for example: porosity, unseated lifting gas valves).

3.3.  Interaction with air navigation services and air traffic management 

(1) Interaction with air navigation services (for example: incorrect services provided, conflicting communications or deviation from clearance) which has or could have endangered the lighter-than-air vehicle, its occupants or any other person. 
(2) Airspace infringement.

3.4.  Emergencies and other critical situations

(1) Any occurrence leading to an emergency call. 
(2) Fire, explosion, smoke or toxic fumes in the lighter-than-air vehicle (beyond the normal operation of the burner). 
(3) Lighter-than-air vehicle's occupants ejected from basket or gondola. 
(4) Incapacitation of the pilot leading to inability to perform any duty. 
(5) Unintended lift or drag of ground crew, leading to fatality or injury of a person.

3.5.  External environment and meteorology 

(1) A collision or near collision on the ground or in the air, with an aircraft, terrain or obstacle (including vehicles) which has or could have endangered the lighter-than-air vehicle, its occupants or any other person. 
(2) Interference with the lighter-than-air vehicle by firearms, fireworks, flying kites, laser illumination, high powered lights lasers, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, model aircraft or by similar means. 
(3) Unexpected encounter of adverse weather conditions which has or could have endangered the lighter-than-air vehicle, its occupants or any other person.

Regulation (EU) NO 376/2014 sets the requirements for the reporting, analysis and follow up of occurrences in Civil Aviation.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1018 lays down a list classifying occurrences in Civil Aviation to be mandatorily reported.

Guidance on the Regulation can be found here.

Submit your report via the EU Reporting Portal.

Online Birdstrike Reporting

What should be reported?

The list of reportable occurrences are no longer listed in CAP 382, but instead are published in Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/1018.

Flight Crew

Design, Production, Maintenance and Continuing Airworthiness Personnel

Air Navigation Personnel

Aerodrome Personnel

GA Pilots

Full and current information can be found on the AAIB Website.

Aircraft accidents or serious incidents should be reported to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and aircraft accidents to the police.

AAIB 24-hour reporting line

  • Telephone: 01252 512299
  • Telephone: 44 1252 512299 from outside UK

Definition of Aircraft Accidents and Serious Incidents

Who must report an aircraft accident or serious incident?

The following people must notify the AAIB without delay if they have knowledge of an aircraft accident or serious incident which occurred in the UK, a UK Overseas Territory or a Crown Dependency:

  • the crew of the aircraft
  • the owner of the aircraft
  • the operator of the aircraft
  • people involved in the maintenance, design or manufacture of the aircraft
  • people involved in the training of the aircraft’s crew
  • people involved in providing air traffic control, flight information services or aerodrome services to the aircraft
  • staff of the Civil Aviation Authority
  • staff of the European Aviation Safety Agency

In the case of an accident, the commander of the aircraft or the aircraft operator, if the commander has been killed or incapacitated, must also inform the police.

What information to give the AAIB

The AAIB will need to know as much of the following information as possible:

  • the type, model, nationality and registration marks of the aircraft
  • the names of the owner, operator and hirer (if any) of the aircraft
  • the name of the commander of the aircraft
  • the date and time (UTC) of the accident or serious incident
  • the last point of departure and the next point of intended landing of the aircraft
  • the position of the aircraft in relation to some easily defined geographical location
  • the number of
    • crew on board and the number killed or seriously injured
    • passengers on board and the number killed or seriously injured
    • other persons killed or seriously injured as a result of the accident
  • the nature of the accident or serious incident and the extent of damage as far as is known

An infringement is the unauthorised entry into controlled or temporarily restricted airspace, or an active Danger Area, by an aircraft. It can have both safety and commercial implications.

When an aircraft infringes, and after the operational impacts have been resolved, initial tracing action is undertaken by the local unit and/or the CAA to establish the registered owner and pilot flying of the aircraft concerned.

There are two complementary actions instigated by the CAS or Danger Area controlling authority:

  1. A questionnaire is sent to the registered owner of the infringing aircraft as part of a two way learning exercise. The information obtained is used to inform the Local Airspace Infringement Team (LAIT) and the Airspace Infringement Working Group (AIWG).
  2. A Mandatory Occurrence Report (MOR) detailing the infringement is submitted to the CAA; this is the main catalyst for the CAA regulatory oversight process detailed in CAP 1404.  

Infringements can also be submitted by ATC on a form CA939 form called an ABANL (Alleged Breach of Air Navigation Legislation) and these are sent directly to the CAA’s Investigations and Enforcement Team.

Tips on avoiding Infringements can be found on the Fly On Track and Airspace & Safety Initiative websites.

If a full AOPA member infringes, or comes under investigation for any aviation related incident, they may contact the office for further personal advice. Advice, if required, should be sought at the earliest possible time after you are aware of action being considered against you.

CAA CAP 1404 details the Review and Remedial Actions Process.

The option to go on an airspace infringement awareness course may now be offered to pilots who infringe. A special training package has been developed by the UK CAA and the General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo).

The CAA says it is one of the options open to them when deciding what to do about an airspace infringement. Each case is assessed individually based on the incident, the pilot’s actions and whether the pilot has previously been involved in airspace infringements.

The Distress and Diversion Cell (D&D) is the Emergency centre of RAF(U) Swanwick based at the London Area Control Centre (LACC) near Southampton.

By International agreement, the provision of an organization to deal with aircraft in emergency is the responsibility of the State within whose airspace the incident occurs.

For the UK airspace, assistance on the VHF (121.500MHz) and UHF (243.00MHz) International Aeronautical Emergency Frequencies is provided by the RAF from the Distress and Diversion (D&D) cell which is equipped with extensive radar coverage, communications and specialist facilities.

The UK D&D cell is located within RAF(U) Swanwick. The primary role of the D&D staff is to provide pilots with an emergency aid and position fixing service. In this the D&D staff can be assisted by suitably equipped civil and military units and aircraft.

For further information please visit the RAF(U) Swanwick Distress and Diversion website.

There is no legal obligation under Regulation 376/2014 for reporting occurrences outside the situations detailed in "What Occurrences have to be Reported (General Aviation)" above. It is nevertheless understood that reporting of  any safety relevant  occurrence by anyone aware of it should be encouraged.

To allow such reporting Regulation 376/2014 imposes a legal obligation on organisations and competent authorities (Article 5) to establish voluntary occurrence reporting systems (VORS).

In this context , the voluntary reporting systems notably enable the reporting of (Article 5(4)):

  • any occurrence or safety related information by individuals  which are not subject  to mandatory reporting (see section  2.2 for  the detailed list of persons subject to MOR),  this might include the reporting by those individuals of occurrences included  in Regulation 2015/1018;
  • any occurrence or safety related information not included in the Regulation 2015/1018 by individuals which are subject to MOR

Examples:

A crew member may report a runway excursion through voluntary occurrence reporting systems.

A  pilot  in  command  may  report  occurrences  outside  those listed in Annex I of Regulation 2015/1018 through voluntary occurrence reporting systems.

While Regulation 376/2014 does not impose  the reporting of all occurrences, its objective is to use all available safety data for the improvement of safety. Therefore the reporting of all relevant information should be strongly promoted and front-line professionals should be encouraged to share their experiences.

The European Commission has prepared and published promotional material with the view to promoting and encouraging the reporting of safety occurrences. This material is available here.

In the UK, an AIRPROX may be reported to the UK Airprox Board. An Airprox is a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or air traffic services personnel, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised.

See here for more details about reporting an AIRPROX.

Also in the UK, there is the Aviation and Maritime Confidential Incident Reporting service (CHIRP). The aim of CHIRP is to contribute to the enhancement of aviation safety in the UK and maritime safety worldwide, by providing a totally independent confidential (not anonymous) reporting system for all individuals employed in or associated with these industries.

See here for more information about CHIRPS and how to submit a confidential report.

For private, non-commercial operations, in Non-Complex EASA aircraft, Regulation (EU) 965/2012 on air operations Annex VII – Part-NCO NCO.IDE applies.

NCO.IDE.A.170   Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)

(a) Aeroplanes shall be equipped with:

(1) an ELT of any type, when first issued with an individual CofA on or before 1 July 2008;
(2) an automatic ELT, when first issued with an individual CofA after 1 July 2008; or
(3) a survival ELT (ELT(S)) or a personal locator beacon (PLB), carried by a crew member or a passenger, when certified for a maximum passenger seating configuration of six or less.
(b) ELTs of any type and PLBs shall be capable of transmitting simultaneously on 121,5 MHz and 406 MHz.

AMC1 NCO.IDE.A.170 ( AMC = Acceptable Means of Compliance)

Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)

BATTERIES

(a) All batteries used in ELTs or PLBs should be replaced (or recharged, if the battery is rechargeable) when the equipment has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour or in the following cases:

(1) Batteries  specifically  designed  for  use  in  ELTs  and  having  an  airworthiness  release certificate (EASA Form 1 or equivalent) should be replaced (or recharged, if the battery is rechargeable)  before  the  end  of  their  useful  life  in  accordance  with  the  maintenance instructions applicable to the ELT.
(2) Standard batteries manufactured in accordance with an industry standard and not having an airworthiness release certificate (EASA Form 1 or equivalent), when used in ELTs should be replaced (or recharged, if the battery is rechargeable) when 50 % of their useful life (or for  rechargeable,  50 %  of  their  useful  life  of  charge),  as  established  by  the  battery manufacturer, has expired.
(3) All batteries used in PLBs should be replaced (or recharged, if the battery is rechargeable) when 50 % of their useful life (or for rechargeable, 50 % of their useful life of charge), as established by the battery manufacturer, has expired.
(4) The battery useful life (or useful life of charge) criteria in (1),(2) and (3) do not apply to batteries  (such  as  water-activated  batteries)  that  are  essentially  unaffected  during probable storage intervals.

(b) The  new  expiry  date for  a  replaced  (or  recharged)  battery  should  be  legibly  marked  on  the outside of the equipment.

AMC2 NCO.IDE.A.170

Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)

TYPES OF ELT AND GENERAL TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

(a) The ELT required by this provision should be one of the following:

(1) Automatic fixed (ELT(AF)). An automatically activated ELT that is permanently attached to an aircraft and is designed to aid search and rescue (SAR) teams in locating the crash site.
(2) Automatic portable (ELT(AP)). An automatically activated ELT that is rigidly attached to an aircraft before a crash, but is readily removable from the aircraft after a crash. It functions as an ELT during the crash sequence. If the ELT does not employ an integral antenna, the aircraft-mounted antenna may be disconnected and an auxiliary antenna (stored on the ELT case) attached to the ELT. The ELT can be tethered to a survivor or a life-raft. This type of ELT is intended to aid SAR teams in locating the crash site or survivor(s).
(3) Automatic deployable (ELT(AD)). An ELT that is rigidly attached to the aircraft before the crash and that is automatically ejected, deployed and activated by an impact, and, in some cases, also by hydrostatic sensors. Manual deployment is also provided. This type of ELT should float in water and is intended to aid SAR teams in locating the crash site.
(4) Survival ELT (ELT(S)). An ELT that is removable from an aircraft, stowed so as to facilitate its  ready  use  in  an  emergency  and  manually  activated  by  a  survivor.  An  ELT(S)  may  be activated manually or automatically (e.g. by water activation). It should be designed either to be tethered to a life-raft or a survivor.
(b) To minimise the possibility of damage in the event of crash impact, the automatic ELT should be rigidly fixed to the aircraft structure, as far aft as is practicable, with its antenna and connections arranged so as to maximise the probability of the signal being transmitted after a crash.
(c) Any ELT  carried should operate in accordance with the  relevant  provisions of ICAO  Annex 10, Volume III, and should be registered with the national agency responsible for initiating search and rescue or other nominated agency.

AMC3 NCO.IDE.A.170

Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)

PLB TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

(a) A  personal  locator  beacon  (PLB)  should  have  a  built-in  GNSS  receiver  with  a cosmicheskaya sistyema poiska avariynich sudov (COSPAS) - search and rescue satellite-aided tracking (COSPAS-SARSAT) type  approval  number.  However,  devices  with  a  COSPAS-SARSAT  number  belonging  to  series 700 are excluded as this series of numbers identifies the special-use beacons not meeting all the technical requirements and all the tests specified by COSPAS-SARSAT.
(b) Any PLB carried should be registered with the national agency responsible for initiating search and rescue or other nominated agency. [In the UK see https://www.gov.uk/maritime-safety-weather-and-navigation/register-406-mhz-beacons]

AMC4 NCO.IDE.A.170

Emergency locator transmitter (ELT)

BRIEFING ON PLB USE

When a PLB is carried by a passenger, he/she should be briefed on its characteristics and use by the pilot-in-command.

NCO.IDE.A.175   Flight over water

(a) The  following  aeroplanes  shall  be  equipped  with  a  life-jacket  for  each  person  on  board,  or equivalent individual floatation device for each person on board younger than 24 months, that shall  be  worn  or  stowed  in  a  position  that  is  readily  accessible  from  the  seat  or  berth  of  the person for whose use it is provided:

(1) single-engined landplanes when:

(i) flying over water beyond gliding distance from land; or
(ii)taking off or landing at an aerodrome or operating site where, in the opinion of the pilot-in-command,  the  take-off  or  approach  path  is  so  disposed  over  water  that there would be a likelihood of a ditching;

(2) seaplanes operated over water; and

(3) aeroplanes operated at a distance away from land where an emergency landing is possible greater  than  that  corresponding  to  30  minutes  at  normal  cruising  speed  or  50 NM,  whichever is less.

(b) Seaplanes operated over water shall be equipped with:

(1) one anchor;
(2) one sea anchor (drogue), when necessary to assist in manoeuvring; and
(3) equipment for  making  the sound  signals,  as  prescribed  in  the  International  Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, where applicable.
(c) the  pilot-in-command  of  an  aeroplane  operated  at  a  distance  away  from  land  where  an emergency landing is possible greater than that corresponding to 30 minutes at normal cruising speed or 50 NM, whichever is the lesser, shall determine the risks to survival of the occupants of the aeroplane in the event of a ditching, based on which he/she shall determine the carriage of:

(1) equipment for making the distress signals;
(2) life-rafts  in  sufficient  numbers  to  carry  all  persons  on  board,  stowed  so  as  to  facilitate their ready use in emergency; and
(3) life-saving equipment, to provide the means of sustaining life, as appropriate to the flight to be undertaken. and before the flight.

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