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Bad landing = negligence

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Bad landing = negligence

Old 19th Mar 2021, 12:01
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Bad landing = negligence

Interesting conclusions of the Australian Court in a case where late touch-down lad to an "unusual" crash (the aircraft hit a Ferris Wheel). The case concerned liability for damages claimed by a person riding on the Ferris Wheel at the time.

You can read the case here
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 15:07
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A case like that doesn't come around very often.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 20:11
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That a court has granted substantial damages against a pilot going-around at an airfield where an event was taking place, due to hittng a new obstruction, close to the climb-out, should concern all of us who go to fly-ins.
My attention on final is on the runway. Looking at videos, I've seen detail on the approach I'd never noticed before.before.I hope his insurance company appeals and wins.
Interestingly different court decision to similar cause accident to Yak
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 20:48
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It's okay Dave, I got it.....
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 09:45
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
It's okay Dave, I got it.....
I didn't react, it's really just swings & roundabouts.

But I think this is a serious legal point for all pilots. The "negligence" finding was based on an approach that was hot / high. If it stands, what would an insurance company then say about your claim for a busted nosewheel & prop and a shock-loaded engine?
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 12:15
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Originally Posted by John R81 View Post
I didn't react, it's really just swings & roundabouts.

But I think this is a serious legal point for all pilots. The "negligence" finding was based on an approach that was hot / high. If it stands, what would an insurance company then say about your claim for a busted nosewheel & prop and a shock-loaded engine?
Exactly the same: Negligence. If you are high and fast you go around. We teach that to the students from the first day.
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 17:53
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128. I accept the experts
pinion that the collision was caused by two circumstances: less than reasonable competence in the landing performed by the Pilot; and the location of the Ferris wheel withinthesplay at the southern end of runway 17. Plainly, to the extent that the lack of competent piloting was a cause of the accident and, for this purpose, assuming damage to the Plaintiff, the Pilot, Mr Cox, is, at least in part,responsible for the damage. The question then arises as to whether the Council is responsible for the location of the Ferris wheel and/or the collision withit, ofthe aircraft, at a time when the Ferris wheel was located as determined.


Video of the accident, filmed from the Ferris Wheel....

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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 20:04
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"Exactly the same: Negligence. If you are high and fast you go around. We teach that to the students from the first day."
He did go-around. If he hadn't, and had gone off the end of the runway, this accident wouldn't have happened.
It doesn't look like the runway had all the approach clues of a major airport runway.
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 23:11
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Hello!

Originally Posted by Maoraigh1 View Post
He did go-around. If he hadn't, and had gone off the end of the runway, this accident wouldn't have happened.
It doesn't look like the runway had all the approach clues of a major airport runway.
No, he did not do a go-around. I read most of the court proceedings linked above (tediuos reading, especially for a non-native speaker, believe me!). His first approach was for a deliberate touch-and-go to check the runway conditions. On this approach he already was fast and high and touched down halfway down the runway. On his second approach he was even faster and higher, yet instead of taking the diligent action of going around he continued all the way to a touchdown 2/3 down the runway at high speed. When he felt that he would not be able to stop the aircraft on the runway he converted this landing to another touch-and-go during which he allowed his airplane drift off the extended runway centerline right into the ferris wheel. He claimed that he never saw the ferris wheel during his two approaches... one wonders what he was looking at - obviously not the ASI and altimeter and not the airfield surroundings either. Anyway, the negligence verdict was split 1/3 to the pilot and 2/3 to the operator of the airfield who kept it open despite the obstacle situation.
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 01:12
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I read small portions of the legal document, and watched the video. Having done so, I don't have a firm opinion either way. That said, in my effort to be a safe pilot, particularly when operating from an uncontrolled aerodrome, or other takeoff/landing area whose local factors are not "controlled" in the hazards sense, I make it my prime goal to understand and assess hazards. I'll overfly as needed to assess the possible hazards. So, I find it terribly discouraging that the pilot, when interviewed, said that he did not see the ferris wheel at all. It's his job one to confirm a suitably safe operating environment, and understand the proximity of encroachments. He admits that he did not do that. The ferris wheel encroached, he "did not notice" it, and failed to assure operations which would prevent a collision. If the ferris wheel, and associated public gathering, encroached on normal aerodrome operations, and safe excursion zones, marking the runway closed from the air would dramatically reduce the risk to the public. I don't see "X"s on the runway in the video. Sure, an average pilot should be able to operate an airplane suited to that runway safely in those dimensions, it's not "tight". But placing a crowd off the end creates a risk that the both the aerodrome operator and pilot should have considered, and mitigated.

On the other hand, I see a legal system which seized the opportunity to make the most out of a sad mistake, making a tempest in a teapot. Yeah, I get that the kids were scared. They probably watch scary movies, and play scary video games too. I doubt, that on their own initiative, they sought monetary compensation for emotional distress. Someone led them down that path. An insurance payout for damage to property was certainly appropriate, as the pilot damaged the ferris wheel. Big dollars for emotional distress? I'm not so sure...

The "negligence" finding was based on an approach that was hot / high.
I interpret the negligence found to be not so much hot / high, but failing to assure safe separation from an obvious hazard. I infer that this was an elective landing, rather than the pilot being compelled to land. If it's elective, take your time, and apply all of your skills to assure it is not only safe, but safe with margins. In all cases of elective operations, it is the pilot's responsibility to assure that the operation can be safe. If you feel that you need "published" dimensions, then stick to documented airports, everything will be by the book, and all hazards marked. If you feel that you can figure things out for yourself, okay, but accept responsibility. I would much rather have heard the pilot say: "I checked out the aerodrome, saw the ferris wheel and crowd, and gave extra thought to maintaining a safe operation with them in mind, but I could just not get the performance out of the plane to make it work.". But, I admit, Sunday morning quarterback on my part....
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 08:27
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A couple of posters have commented on the pilot's apparent inability to see the thing he ran into.

While I agree it may appear surprising that something as large and mobile as a Ferris wheel wasn't visible to him I recently read another Court decision here that I think has relevance.

In this case a pilot landed on a runway that contained two large orange cherry-pickers, and struck one of them. Two pilots gave evidence that they simply did not see the cherry pickers even though they were probably closer to them on landing than the Ferris wheel would have been to Mr Cox. These two pilots had 19,000-odd and 25,000-odd hours, they were clearly very experienced.

While there were different circumstances one could expand upon the common point to me was that, generally, from the base leg these three pilots were very much concentrating on where they were going to land to the exclusion almost of all else in the periphery.

From the comfort of the flight-desk it's easy to be critical of this, but with the evidence at hand, and particularly for Mr Cox, I'm not sure I'd call it 'negligence' in the normal dictionary sense (albeit it may be so in law).

Why is this? Well Mr Cox was a low-hour pilot (80-something IIRC), he was clearly cautious and probably nervous, and given the conditions would have been looking even harder at the runway surface than perhaps he might normally. On his first attempt at a full stop he made a mess of it (haven't we all at some stage?) and in his recovery drifted off-line striking the wheel he never saw.

The evidence in the NZHC document supports a view that his inability to see the Ferris wheel was likely quite genuine - and possibly not entirely unusual. To me this suggests that the outcome of the Cox accident may not be a simple result of failure to exercise care and attention, rather it was a mistake - and one from which the dramatic consequences may have been more easily and effectively avoided by those on the ground than the one in the air...




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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 11:32
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I think it all lies in the definition of "negligence" as a legal term, not the everyday meaning. The Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negligence) makes interesting reading because this term has slightly different meanings even across English speaking countries. Not to mention the non-English speaking ones. A person from our aviation authority during one of the many courses I have taken once explained, that there can be no accident without some degree of negligence (acts of god like being hit by an asteroid and force majeure apart). If everybody involved applies 100% care to erveything he does there can be no accident. So for an accident to happen, a certain degree of lack of care - or negligence - is required. We are all humans and few of us can be 100% diligent 100% of the time. We make mistakes, which, in legal terms, translates to: We are negligent. To cover us, and the people we might harm, we take out an insurance. Which is mandatory in many countries for operating aircraft. And insurers have to pay out for accidents caused by negligence, this is exactly what they are there for. They don't have to pay if the court rules, that "gross negligence" was the cause of the accident. But there are very very few cases in aviation where a court has come to that conclusion and in this case of the ferris wheel that term was not even mentioned.
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 14:45
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So for an accident to happen, a certain degree of lack of care - or negligence - is required.
I don't entirely agree, It is possible for a totally attentive and qualified pilot to just run out of skill enough to have an accident, though I agree that generally, for an accident to happen, someone missed something they should have seen coming, and that is, in some part, negligence.

In the case of Mr. Cox, and the ferris wheel, there are two interpretations of "did not notice" [the ferris wheel]. One is: Did not know it was there at all - that's negligent. Or, knew it was there, but lost situational awareness, and with the nose high, momentarily could not see it - error, not quite so negligent. As he reported doing a touch and go to check the runway, I hope that a view of any factors and encroachments to the operating area were a part of that check. So, having flown a runway check, and not ever noticing the ferris wheel, seems negligent to me...
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 16:34
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
I don't entirely agree, It is possible for a totally attentive and qualified pilot to just run out of skill enough to have an accident, ...
Yes, of course, but the pilot must not necessarily be the negligent one in the chain of events that lead to the accident. It might have it's origin with his instructors and examiners, who either did not notice his lack of skill or let him pass anyway. I do not know what's involved in maintaining an Australian microlight license, but if it includes anything like a biannual flight review or similar, his obvious inability to fly an approach at an appropriate speed and altitude should have been noticed, as well as his difficulty in maintaining directional control after the touch-and-go.

Also I do not know what's involved when flying to small airfields in Australia, especially ones where one has not been for some time. In many European countries it is custom, even if not legally required, to give them a phone call in advance and inquire about the runway condition and whatever else one should know. In this case a visiting pilot would certainly have been made aware of the carnival including ferris wheel right next to the field. On larger airfields these things would be NOTAMd and not reading NOTAMs before departure will definitely be regarded as negligence.
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 19:39
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Was there a fly-in associated with the carnival?
Had he phoned but not been warned about the ferris wheel?
Was he based at a long runway airfield?
Why would a small airfield not notam the carnival and ferris wheel?
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 20:08
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1 View Post
Was there a fly-in associated with the carnival?
Had he phoned but not been warned about the ferris wheel?
Was he based at a long runway airfield?
Why would a small airfield not notam the carnival and ferris wheel?
Quite, and why I alluded to more being able to be done to avoid this by those on the ground. Also I think the following is relevant (taken from the table at s40 of the Court decision):

-The centre of the Ferris wheel was located inside a 5% lateral take-off clearance splay of the end of RWY17 by an estimated 2.7m with a maximum uncertainty of 1.7m.
-Based on an obstacle distance of 160.6m, a 5% vertical take-off slope gradient equates to a take-off elevation gain of 8.0m from the end of RWY17. The uncertainty in this elevation is 0.25m.
-The obstacle elevation of the Ferris wheel was located above a 5% vertical gradient clearance splay of the end of RWY17 by an estimated 7.9m with a maximum calculation uncertainty of 0.35m (0.1m +0.25m).
-The aircraft impact zone is coincident with the region of the Ferris wheel that falls within the required RWY 17/35 approach obstacle clear area; CASA Guideline92-1(1).

IOW it was foolish place to put the damned thing...

Last edited by First_Principal; 23rd Mar 2021 at 20:09. Reason: Formatting
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Old 23rd Mar 2021, 20:08
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
I see a legal system which seized the opportunity to make the most out of a sad mistake, making a tempest in a teapot. Yeah, I get that the kids were scared. They probably watch scary movies, and play scary video games too. I doubt, that on their own initiative, they sought monetary compensation for emotional distress. Someone led them down that path. An insurance payout for damage to property was certainly appropriate, as the pilot damaged the ferris wheel. Big dollars for emotional distress? I'm not so sure...
Concur. At most, the compensatory damages to the riders on that ferris wheel should be a fresh pair of underwear. They should thank God they survived and now they have a great story to impress their friends at parties. That ought to be worth $omething.
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Old 24th Mar 2021, 08:25
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Originally Posted by what next View Post
Hello!
He claimed that he never saw the ferris wheel during his two approaches... one wonders what he was looking at - obviously not the ASI and altimeter and not the airfield surroundings either. Anyway, the negligence verdict was split 1/3 to the pilot and 2/3 to the operator of the airfield who kept it open despite the obstacle situation.
He was flying a low wing aircraft in a nose high attitude.....just look at the video linked above, pause it 36 seconds in and look closely at the aircraft. From the pilot's seat, the raised nose would have blocked all view of the ferris wheel. The pilot was possibly negligent in not correcting for drift but there is no need to doubt his statement that he never saw the Ferris Wheel. The fact that the council was considered negligent by the positioning of the wheel is, in my mind, the correct decision. The accident also reminds me in principle of the crash of the TB10 of the Pilatus Flying Club back in 2018 - the pilot, who was the Chief Pilot of Pilatus at the time - didn't see the ridge he eventually crashed into because of the nose high attitude.....
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Old 24th Mar 2021, 12:27
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Once again, I beg to differ with both of you. Each of us claims to be knowledgeable in his own field of work, maybe even up to expert level. So I think we should concede the same to the expert psychologists/psychiatrists who examined the young lady and came to the joint conclusion that she was severely traumatised by the accident. To the point, that now, ten years later and in her twenties, she is "unemployable". Which means that she may, unless one day she recovers from her condition, never be able to earn her own living. In other countries she would have been awarded 10 or even 100 times the sum that she now gets because of that. And if you read the paper, she (or her family) did not sue right after the accident. But only years later, after it became obvious that permanent damage was done.

Did any of you two ever suffer from panic attacks? Lay awake every night and relive that near-death experience over and over again? Me neither, but I know people who do. They do not have a good life. Two of them are professional pilots, both are unable to continue working in their/our(!) profession. Neither of them suffered an actual accident, "just" very close calls, one in a jet fighter too low to eject and the other during a cocked-up approach into a Swiss mountain airfield with a business jet. No two humans have the same mental stability, some can shake off such an experience, others can get over it after months or years of counsel and yet others never fully recover.

What would you write here if she had actually suffered physical damage, maybe lost an arm or a leg in the accident? That this is no big deal because teenagers see lots of blood and ripped-off limbs in the scary movies they like to watch? Certainly not. So why would (permanent) psychological damage constitute a lesser disability than losing a leg?

Last edited by Pilot DAR; 24th Mar 2021 at 16:15. Reason: typo
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Old 24th Mar 2021, 22:16
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but there is no need to doubt his statement that he never saw the Ferris Wheel.
I see it differently: He said that he never saw the ferris wheel, which is hard to accept, as he is reported as doing a flyby/touch and go before the accident pass. If the pilot could do a flyby/touch and go, and not be aware that the ferris wheel was there at all, that's negligent. Once aware that there is a hazard in the departure path, it's up to the pilot to be flying so as to be situatationally aware of it all the time. Best to be seeing it the whole time, but if not, having a really effective awareness as to where not to fly.

Sure, you can get the nose really high, and lose some visibility, particularly on the other side. It's up to the pilot to either determine that is manageable, or not attempt the operation. I've certainly had to land in the water, knowing there was a water hazard, which I would not be able to see (right side of the plane) as I went by. It's up to me to effectively "picture" where it is, and not hit it. 'Same thing with obstructions.

In many European countries it is custom, even if not legally required, to give them a phone call in advance and inquire about the runway condition and whatever else one should know.
I can't speak for Australia, but in Canada, there are hundreds of aerodromes, where "there's the runway, and no "X"s, so decide for yourself", no local information nor Notams would be available. Hence a very wise flyby first, perhaps a couple of flybys to be sure. There have been many times I've run a mainwheel along a runway, before deciding to land.

So I think we should concede the same to the expert psychologists/psychiatrists who examined the young lady and came to the joint conclusion that she was severely traumatised by the accident. To the point, that now, ten years later and in her twenties, she is "unemployable".
Hmmm... Maybe, I guess we have to keep an open mind... But speaking as a person who was ejected through the windshield, into the water, by my student, woke up four days later, and then spent three months in hospital, I immediately decided for myself, and was vigorously mentored, to get over it and get on with my life, I did. I understand that not everyone can do that, but through the process, I realized that money would not make my life better, making my life return would, and it did. Suing someone was never in my mind, getting better was. I wish the same for the victim of any accident, and understand it's more difficult for some than others. Support helps...

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