Automation which is currently available can help reduce accidents in general aviation (GA), according to the FAA, which is reminding GA pilots that all aircraft flying in designated controlled airspace must be equipped with it by January 1, 2020. Only aircraft that fly within uncontrolled airspace and aircraft without electrical systems, such as balloons and gliders, are exempt.

Implementing the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology is the first step in achieving a “smart” cockpit that also takes advantage of electronic ignition and engine control, interconnected devices, and flight information stream flow.

"Smart" procedures and LOC accidents

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC)  has determined that pilots who use “smart” procedures, including automated checklists for normal and emergency operations, predictive aircraft performance, and performance monitoring, might help reduce their chances for a Loss of Control (LOC) accident, which involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.

It’s a significant safety issue. From October 2016 through September 2017, 247 people died in 209 general aviation accidents. Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.

#FlySafe campaign educates pilots

The FAA and the GA community have been promoting a national #FlySafe campaign to help educate GA pilots about the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations. Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell is urging pilots to join the #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on, the agency provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts — some of which are already reducing risk.

“Those who have already equipped know the advantages of ADS-B,” according to a statement released by the FAA. “It provides more precision and reliability than the current radar system. It also provides improved aircraft position data, which is critical in collision avoidance. ADS-B In has a data link for environmental information, which can also be used for air traffic control (ATC) communications, notices to airmen (NOTAM), and up-to-the-minute temporary flight restriction information.”

With only 21 months until the deadline, the FAA is urging those with questions to visit the FAA Equip ADS-B website

More about the technology

Electronic ignition and engine control

If your car has a start button, you know what this is all about. Electronic Engine Control (EEC) systems are more reliable, more efficient, and less costly to purchase and maintain than analog systems. EECs evaluate input from engine and environmental sensors hundreds of times per minute, which keep your engine running at peak efficiency for your operational environment. Those same sensors will also give you a clear picture of your power plant’s health. If there’s a problem, a light will let you know you need to schedule maintenance.

Interconnected devices

Interconnected devices turn your cockpit into an information powerhouse. Air-to-ground data links can provide air traffic clearances and instructions as well as current weather and field condition reports and NOTAMs.

Link your phone to access even more information safely and securely. You’ll be able to see where you’re going without “fumble-fingering” your route. Information is transferred directly from your flight plan to your aircraft.

“This is not technology of the future. It’s here and ready to use, today,” said the FAA.

Flight Information Stream

With a flight information stream, a pilot can get complete information on your aircraft’s health from a variety of internal and external sources that are available now, or will be soon. This information can be formed, updated, and presented in a graphical and text form.

In the future, ATC communications and aircraft configuration will be integrated, and smart checklists for normal and emergency operations will appear as needed.

With all that information, the aircraft will be able to predict performance in takeoff, cruise, approach, and landing operations. Pilots will know how much runway they’ll need for every take-off and landing.

More about Loss of Control

Contributing factors may include:

  • Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Did you know?

  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.

For pilots

Learn more about what ADS-B can do for you.

This GA Safety Enhancement Fact Sheet will show you how you can improve your personal efficiency with a “Smart” Cockpit. Or, watch this video.

Curious about FAA regulations (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations)? It’s a good idea to stay on top of them. Find current FAA regulations on this website.

The website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars, and more on key general aviation safety topics.

The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements. It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.

The GAJSC is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.