Old 28th Nov 2012, 16:42
  #75 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,958
ATSB have a long way to go to restore suitable cred me thinks, although the preliminary report write up of the recent crash in the Kimberley was a good start.

I'll not comment on this accident at all other than to not discount anything and remark that we once very - very nearly bought the farm operating in search mode in a baron, dark night, full stratus cloud cover and a couple of hundred below minimas to keep under under the fog to maintain ground motor car light visibility The only other light was a small fire lit by the downed pilot and we were using the aircraft lights to direct the motor car through extremely dense middle story vegetation in a racetrack fashion, yep boring after a while, read - complacency. A very simple thing happened. The Flight director locked up on the heading bug on a routine turn and oh boy, was it close before the pilot was onto it and then recovered. I can just imagine the comments of negativity that may have ensued.

This excerpt is a good statement as well.
Although the reasons for the flight path have not yet been determined, the ATSB is concerned about the conduct of visual flight rules (VFR) flights in dark night conditions that is, conditions with minimal celestial illumination, terrestrial lighting cues or visible horizon.
For my money the visible horizon is the most critical. It is strangely illogical that engagement in NVMC requires further instrumentation than that which is required for the same activity during daylight.It may not at all be a good idea to discuss on an open forum, what may have been taught to others or the techniques engaged to ensure safety of flight at night, with bugger all instruments, if you get the drift, but all of those considerations shrink violently into the deepest, darkest most terrifying corners of the mind when one contemplates attempting the same activity over a mirror still, massive lake on a starry night.

Under such circumstances and a myriad of other scenarios, just a small amount of bushfire smoke for example, AOTW's suggestion of being fulls IR capable is the only way that such flight should be contemplated after legal last light. If the light available at destination is suitable for transitioning to NVMC, so be it.

There is an example from a few years ago of a mustering pilot in western Queensland, who according to his log book engaged in dark night flights and at altitude. (I.E. well away from where he might establish and lock onto a horizon)

On his last flight he reported by radio that he had the lights of homestead outstation X in sight. After his crash and body was discovered it was also found that there was no one at homestead X and no lights on. That is, he confused an assumption of lights with the stars and had by that stage gone inverted. A terrifying ride down for him from around a couple of thousand feet for sure

. I am with all those who say full IR or not at all. At least during daylight hours one can see enough to establish your visual range.
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