Loss of Control of Light Aircraft- Using Flight Test to Unlock the Mystery?

Mike Bromfield, G.B. Gratton, M.S. Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In-flight, low-speed Loss of Control (LoC) in Visual Meteorological Conditions is the most common fatal accident causal category involving light aircraft in the UK and beyond. Why LoC events occur and why there are apparent differences between aircraft models has been part of a continuing research investigation by Brunel Flight Safety Laboratory. Using a 13-month flight test programme involving 2 apparently similar aircraft model groups and 8 separate airframes, significant differences in performance, handling qualities and stall characteristics were found together with differences in cockpit ergonomics and pilot workload. Having identified possible contributory factors, a series of flight simulation tests were conducted over a 3 month period, in a safe, controlled environment with 26 volunteer pilots (from PPL student to ATPL) representing the UK general aviation sector. Tests focussed on airspeed management and stall avoidance during safety-critical phases of flight and manoeuvres. This paper presents the results, lessons learned and recommendations – hopefully enabling a better understanding of LoC and possible future avoidance within the general aviation community and beyond?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication22nd European Symposium - Society of Flight Test Engineers, Toulouse, France, 14/06/11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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