Less loss of control in flight (LOC-I) accidents with more AOA indicators ?



In this recent article published on the Pilot Training System website, the author Roger Rapoport quotes the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Earl Weener as making a powerful case for adding angle of attack indicators to all  aircraft.

Long advocated by many commercial pilots, and strongly recommended by the French BEA team investigating the Air France 447 accident, AOA indicators help avoid cockpit confusion that can contribute to an aerodynamic stall.

According to Weener, “more than 40 percent of fixed wing accidents are loss of control events”. Loss of control accidents are the top general aviation item on the NTSB’s “most wanted list” for transportation safety improvements.  Often they are triggered by several errors including bad turns on final approach, failure to recognize the warning signs of an impending stall and not knowing how to apply appropriate recovery techniques.

Weener points out that an AOA indicator can improve situational awareness during critical and high-workload phases of flight. “With an AOA indicator,” says Weener, “a significant portion of these loss of control events could be prevented.”

From our point of view at ECAIR, we fully support such an initiative as for us, using the AOA indicator is paramount in terms of preventing Upset situations or LOC-I. AOA indicators could highly improve pilots’ situational awareness to avoid exceeding the critical AOA and thus reduce the risk of an inadvertent stall.

If you ask military pilots which instrument they will prefer to exclusively use in terms of energy management and SA regarding safety speed margins, their unanimous answer will be “the AOA indicator“…

AOA indicators have already been installed on many Transport & Business Aircraft such as KC 135, Transall, Canadair, Tracker and Hawker 900. The FAA has concluded that the use of AOA-based systems by the GA community is an effective method for reducing LOC accidents in the approach and landing phase of flight. We think it should be mandatory for all training aircraft.

ECAIR partners with IFSA (French Institute for Air Safety) to help aircrew benefit from its UPRT expertise.

IFSA is at the forefront of technical and regulatory developments, and is offering trainings in the fields of prevention and investigation of air incidents and accidents. Among its references are the armed forces of several countries including France, airlines such as Air France or Royal Air Maroc and some industrial entities such as Airbus, Dassault, Thales or even SNECMA.

ECAIR’s mission is to train pilots to recover from a loss of control in flight. Based at Bordeaux-Mérignac airport, ECAIR instructors, former test pilots, are training pilots to Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT), a method promoted by aviation safety entities, in particular by EASA. ECAIR instructors are duplicating cases of loss of control in flight, both in FSTD and training aircraft scenarios, to help pilots find life-saving techniques.


The programme includes academic courses, simulator sessions and training on ECAIR aircrafts: a Grob 120 AF, a TBM 850/900, a Cessna 150 Aerobat and a variable stability Learjet. “Our trainings objective is to enable pilots to experience once in their life what happens when the aircraft does something unusual. Flights allow pilots to learn how to respond by feeling the physiological effects of stress, which is not easy to get on a simulator,” tells Philippe Borghini, ECAIR’s President and CEO.

“At IFSA, we wanted to partner with ECAIR. We recognize their expertise. Thanks to them, we can raise awareness among our trainees on what is going on when moving away from known situations in flight and give them the opportunity to experience it later on in flight. It’s important because ultimately it is about saving lives. UPRT is like ice driving. One go is enough to know how it works,” explains Air Vice-Marshall Thierry Delahaye, IFSA Director.

Quotes are taken from the following blog post, released by IFSA’s parent organization, DCI.

Aviation insurers start to recognize the value of UPRT training

As reported by Aviation International News, safety training operators are starting to form partnerships with aviation insurers. With loss-of-control in-flight (LOC-I) being a major aviation safety issue, and hence also representing a major claims risk, it makes a lot of sense for insurance underwriters to encourage safety training efforts that lead to their clients having comprehensive safety management systems in place. And for airlines, it offers opportunities to offset some of the training costs.

Insurers have different options at their disposal to integrate UPRT training into their underwriting process, and what they will want to offer will vary across each insurer and their underwriting criteria for each client. At the very least, improved pilot training can put an operator into a stronger negotiation position during the underwriting process. More direct incentives can include offering to cover a part of the training costs or of course a positive impact on insurance premiums, either through a direct discount or in the form of a ‘no claims’ bonus.

At ECAIR, we welcome this development and we are actively working on developing our own partnerships with insurers such as the ALLIANZ group to be able to offer stronger incentives for operators to include UPRT modules in their training syllabi.

Pilots largely in approval of increasing on-aircraft upset recovery training.

When the French aviation portal Aerobuzz published an article about ECAIR, it was a welcome opportunity to get some direct feedback from the wider aviation community on ECAIR’s training approach.

Philippe Borghini, ECAIR’s founder and CEO had said: “There are three primary factors that can trigger a crisis situation in the cockpit, external environmental factors, internal mechanical factors and finally human behavior, a combination of the three often has drastic consequences.

As performance and safety of existing aircraft is increasing, the human factor is now a key aspect of incidents that took place in recent years, and LOC-I (loss of control in flight) is with 35% the leading cause of fatal accidents.”

With European regulations for UPRT expected for 2016, ECAIR has developed courses that train pilots to quickly assess the seriousness of a particular situation and to appropriately deal with the unexpected. “You have to put the pilot into a real-life scenario to improve the much cited SA (situation awareness),” the experienced instructor added. “With excellent preventive training, we reduce the occurrence of critical situations and the damage they can bring about.”

Unsurprisingly, adding practical flight exercises to airline pilots’ largely simulator-based training was widely supported by the Aerobuzz community, as could be seen by the many positive comments that accompanied the article. The ensuing lively debate amongst members on the best approach to further improve flight safety was closely followed by the ECAIR management team. For Ph. Borghini, “the reaction from concerned pilots shows that while we are further encouraged to develop ECAIR’s capacities, there is still a considerable way to go.”


This is also an opportunity to address some of the community’s specific questions about ECAIR’s operations directly to its founder:

The first relates to the use of the Aerobat C150 as a training aircraft. Why have you chosen this particular machine?

Philippe Borghini:  As a resilience and confidence builder, the C150 A offers a very good compromise, and before using a more powerful aircraft, the C150’s versatility is well suited for UPRT exercises.

It is first an Aerobatic certified aircraft which guarantees a safety envelope regarding G’s and all attitude maneuvers. Secondly, it has a side-by-side seat configuration like all civilian transport aircraft. Finally, its operational costs stay low.

Second, could UPRT training not be made mandatory by airline insurers in return for lower premiums?

Philippe Borghini: “Yes, that is a very interesting point, and over in the United States there are already partnerships formed between insurers and training operators such as ourselves. We want to take a similar path here in Europe and we have started talking to different potential partners, such as the ALLIANZ insurance group, which has shown a willingness to lower premiums for customers who have  completed ECAIR training programmes.

The last question is in some way linked to the previous one. With a constant drive for cost efficiencies in the industry, how can these additional training requirements best be funded by the airlines?

Phillipe Borghini:  Since May 2015, all commercial air transport operators are required to provide UPRT training to their crews. To reduce their training costs, they focus their UPRT training efforts on their instructors, in order to then pass on UPRT instruction to the rest of their pilots. This is why ECAIR has created a specific instructor’s course to “Train the Trainer”.

Once they are UPRT qualified, these new UPRT instructors will deliver both the academic foundation course and the FSTD UPRT exercises to the regular pilots with the support of ECAIR’s instructors.

To reduce training costs, these courses are integrated in the existing training syllabus. Once again, ECAIR works closely with the training department to efficiently build these new training syllabi in order to better integrate both maneuver and scenario-based UPRT exercises.