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Night-flight warning


Earlier this week, we released our latest avoidable accident report highlighting the risks of pilots flying visually at night.

We released the report in response to a number of fatal accidents that happened in dark-night conditions—the most recent accident being the tragic helicopter crash at Lake Eyre in South Australia where the pilot became spatially disoriented during a visual flight at night.

The numbers are worrying. Over the past 20 years, we’ve investigated 36 accidents as a result of visual flight at night. Of these, 27 had fatal outcomes which tragically led to 58 fatalities.

You are at least three times more likely to have an accident while flying at night.

What we’ve found—and what all pilots should be aware of—is that flying at night is far riskier than flying during the day. In fact, you are at least three times more likely to have an accident while flying at night.

Even when undertaken by appropriately qualified and experienced pilots, night flight presents an added level of complexity. But accidents of this nature can be avoided and can be managed by pilots maintaining their proficiency, knowing their own personal limitations and only flying in environments that don’t exceed their capabilities.

I encourage all pilots to read the report, Visual flight at night accidents: what you can’t see can still hurt you. The report features case studies on several night-flight accidents and helps pilots better understand and manage the dangers of flying at night.

You can also find other avoidable accident reports on our website. These reports highlight the accident types that tragically occur time and again, but with good preparation and management can be avoided.

You can also view the video of my interview with the ABC’s Philippa McDonald about night-flight risks on the ATSB’s YouTube channel.

On a final note, I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season. I look forward to continuing the conversation on transport safety in 2014.

Written by Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner at 12:00 PM
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1 Comment :

Michelle T said...

It doesn't seem unpredictable that you should be 3 times more likely to have an accident at night ... thanks for sharing though and if you could continue spreading the word it would be appreciated! 

July 23, 2014 22:39