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Category Archives: SAFETY ADVISORIES

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Flying during elections is a very challenging task and as such, all the professionals associated with the election Flying need to exercise extreme caution. Number of Aircraft and Helicopters will be crisscrossing, all over the country, to ferry the political parties.

Inadequate or Lack of co-ordination among the Operators, Pilots, Aircraft and Helicopters, inadequate Air Traffic Control, hurriedly prepared makeshift, dusty helipads, poor crowd control, inadequate security, commercial, political parties and VIP pressures, adverse Weather conditions obtained during election period (Pre Monsoon months), heavy quantum of flying, large number of takeoffs and landings, Pilots and other Crew members fatigue, inadequate rest and recreation facilities and rushed up maintenance are some of the serious hazards during election flying.

 Hence, it is essential to have high level of   preparations, planning and coordination to ensure that the Election flying is conducted in a safe and efficient manner.

Although most of the pilots and other crew members are highly competent, knowledgeable and safety minded professionals and many have been involved in Election Flying earlier, yet it is essential to refresh our memory so that we are better prepared to meet the challenges posed during election flying.

Following precautions are recommended:-

  1. Prepare well for the hectic flying and maintenance activity keeping in mind the daily flying and maintenance requirements including periodic inspections. Provision for adequate spares, tools, batteries, charging trolleys, fuel, oil, and grease etc. and develop an efficient supply chain.
  2. Carry required documents, Manuals, SOPs, Check Lists, Log Books, Licenses, and Medical Fitness Certificate etc. as mandated to be carried by DGCA.
  3. Ensure that you have undergone the necessary air and ground training as per regulations and   are current.
  4. Kindly go through DGCA CAR’s, Circulars etc. particularly related to election flying and make a summary of salient points for ready reference.
  5. On reaching your launching base for election flying, kindly liaise with the airport authorities, Officer in charge Security, firefighting, refueling and ground handling agencies.
  6. It is essential to conduct a coordination meeting among all the operators, officials from Airport, Security, firefighting, ground handling and hospitals etc. before the commencement of the operations.
  7. It may be a difficult task but make efforts to know the following days flying program of various helicopters, aircraft operating in the area and ascertain changes in the program before commencement of flying.
  8. Organize and attend preflight briefing with other operators and get to know their program and undertake necessary coordination.
  9.  All the pilots must be familiar with the frequency to be used with in control zone and in the area of operations.
  10. Heights/Altitude  to be maintained during en route flying both inbound and outbound must be finalized during the coordination meeting and ensure that all the pilots operating in the area, are familiar with the same and adhere to it strictly.
  11.  Remember that there will be large number of Aircraft and Helicopters flying in the congested airspace. Hence, it is essential to keep a good look out, listening out watch and make blind calls at regular intervals to avoid any midair collision. Give a call before Takeoff and Landing at helipads regardless of the availability of ground control.
  12. Kindly keep in mind that there might be aircraft and helicopters entering your area of operations from bases other than the base of your operations and you may not know about their movement. Therefore, it is all the more essential to listen out on RT and make blind calls at regular intervals.
  13. Ensure that you have latest Jeppesson, ILS, VOR charts, maps of the entire area of operations and GPS coordinates of the airports, helipads.
  14. Ensure that the GPS is serviceable and reliable and it is good practice to carry a hand held GPS which can come handy in the event of main GPS becoming unserviceable.
  15. Get to know about the weather Hazards in the area of your operations. Ensure that you get proper Weather briefing from the Met Department, IMD and other websites and closely monitor the changes in weather conditions. March to May is the period of Pre Monsoon and the election flying will also take place during these months. Dust storms, thunderstorms, hailstorms are some of the serious weather hazards during these months. Norwesters/Kaal Baisakhi which are experienced during pre-monsoon months (Mar to May) in the areas of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa are associated with sudden and severe thunderstorms, lightening, hailstorm and wind shear. General areas affected by Kaal Baisakhi are between Kolkata and Patna (Chhota Nagpur Hills, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Kalaikunda (Barrackpore) and Bhuvneshwar). Exercise extreme caution while flying in these areas.
  16.  Proper picketing, lashing of the aircraft/helicopters must be ensured.
  17. Before undertaking the Flight, ensure that you have correct coordinates of the Helipad, confirm the same from Google Earth and study the en route terrain (Min Enroute Altitude, Safe Altitude, Off Route Altitude and Decent Altitude) and obstructions around the helipad, Airports. Check, recheck and double check the coordinates and make sure that you feed them correctly on your GPS.
  18. Due to political rivalry, there may be occasions when you might be denied permission to use the helipad, may be at last minute or booked for violation of property rights if you err in landing at some wrong place. Be very careful and situationally aware.
  19. Have proper liaison with the ground personal manning the helipad and brief them to ensure that the helipad surface is hard, level and freer of dust. Sprinkling of the water close to the landing and takeoff time is essential requirement lest you get into a dust bowl and get disorientated.
  20. Helipads, preferably, should be some distance away from the venue of the rally ground which will be helpful in crowd control.
  21. Security and crowd control is a major area of concern at the Helipads and the ground personnel manning the helipads should be briefed about them with emphasis.
  22. During landing and takeoff, keep a good look out for lose flying objects like flags,umbrellas,plastic bags, lungis, dhotis, head covers, ropes and strings etc. Don’t take these aspects lightly since there have been number of accidents due to these hazards.
  23. Remember, only VFR operations are permitted to and from the helipads. Day flying is 20 minutes before sun rise and 20 minutes after sun set. Always plan to land at the Helipad 0:30 hrs. before sunset just to cater for any last minute delays, so that you land at least by sunset.
  24. Fuel planning and quality of fuel is very crucial and ensure that your refueling party is properly briefed and their movement is well coordinated and monitored. Remember fuel is life. Hand held GPS with the refueling /ground party can be very useful in confirming and updating the GPS coordinates of the landing ground. Take due precautions before and during refueling.
  25. Have an umbrella, drinking water, soft drinks, reading material and light snacks on board which may come handy at helipads while waiting.
  26. Pilot and Maintenance personnel fatigue is a major concern during the hectic election flying day in and day out. Remember that stressed pilots and maintenance crew may lead to compromise on safety of the operations. Proper sleep at Hotel/Guest house, adequate rest, refreshment facilities at helipads, help of a dispatcher/coordinator/Ops manager in undertaking various coordination activities for the operations, Maintenance and provisioning of lap tops, internet and reliable communication facilities for the pilots and ground personnel can be of great help in reducing pilot and ground crew fatigue.
  27. Kindly do not exceed FDTL, FTL and do not get pressurized to undertake flying in case of unfavorable weather conditions or in violation of DGCA rules, regulations.
  28. Election Commission and DGCA officials are expected to be very proactive in carrying out surprise and random checks and any violation will be viewed very seriously. Kindly be extra careful. Remember that you are under close scrutiny during election flying.
  29. Ensure that no unauthorized items are carried on board the aircraft or Helicopter. Carry out proper check of baggage and look out for hidden dangerous goods.
  30. Firearms and large cash, unless specifically authorized, are not permitted to be carried on board the aircraft or helicopter. Kindly check on the amount of cash that can be carried from the Election Officials in your area of operations.
  31. Please do not succumb to commercial, political or VIP pressures and do not undertake flying in violation of the rules regulations. Remember the past accidents and consequent loss of lives and machines which resulted due to the pilots succumbing to these pressures.
  32. Politely but firmly, advise the concerned people if a sortie is likely to be in violation of the rules, regulations.
  33. Kindly carry Air safety Circular 09/2013 on board the helicopter which permits pre cautionary landing at any suitable place or at an airfield even after its watch hours in case you encounter adverse weather and are unable to proceed to your destination or alternate.
  34. Ensure that you have the Emergency Response Plan of your company, telephone numbers of the Officials from DGCA Air Safety, Police, District Administration, ATC, Fire Stations and hospitals in the area of your operations.
  35. Proper Load and trim sheet is to be prepared before each sortie and records maintained. Do not overload or stress your machines.
  36. Due to high temperatures obtained during election season, the density altitude will be higher. High density altitude will reduce the load carrying capability of your aircraft/helicopter and increase your takeoff and landing distances. Keep these factors in mind.
  37. Maintain a proper record of your flying and no efforts should be made to alter the records to be within FDTL or FTL limits since if it comes to the notice of the regulator or the election officials, you can be in serious trouble.
  38.  Please know about the Prohibited, Restricted and Danger areas for flying and do not violate them.
  39. Written Permission should be obtained for landing clearance at Helipads and copy of the same should be available with the pilots during flying. No verbal clearance should be accepted.
  40. Ensure proper briefing of passengers which is a legal requirement. Make sure that no passenger or the onlookers get into the tail rotor. Brief Ground support personnel, Copilot, AME, Technician etc. for securing the area particularly around tail rotor.
  41. Always maintain your route safety altitude. While flying below one thousand feet in the plains, keep a very sharp look out for pylons, towers, HT Cables, ropeways and tall structures.
  42. With the onset of summer season, bird activity in the altitude bands where helicopters usually fly (around 2000 Ft AGL), increases.  Birds are serious hazards and maintain a sharp look out for them.
  43. In number of states, the clearance for landing permission etc. is given in local language. Kindly ensure that you have interpreter’s services in case the pilots are not familiar with local language.
  44. Pilots must have good rapport and interaction with the maintenance and ground support personnel.
  45. Remember that your maintenance and ground support personnel will also be fatigued and may miss out on certain checks. In addition, commercial/task pressures may tempt them to take short cuts. Be aware of this fact and be meticulous in your checks and follow the SOP, s religiously.Maintenance personnel must take special care of the maintenance activities since machines are subjected to intensive flying and dusty environments.Do not ignore minor leaks, fluctuations, vibrations and never exceed the limitations laid down. Flying partially serviceable machines is to be avoide
  46. Good CRM, Meticulous flight planning, preparations, knowledge, vigilance, alertness and not being complacent are key to maintaining good Situational Awareness which is so essential for the safety and efficiency of operations.
  47. All the Operators, supervisory staff, Aircrew, Ground crew and supporting staff, Air Traffic controllers, Aerodrome Operator should be working with proper coordination, cooperation and support each other in ensuring successful conduct of election flying operations. Various hazards should be identified and addressed with the priority they deserve to prevent any compromise on safety.
  48. Total involvement of the senior management of the operators and various other agencies connected with election flying will go a long way in promoting the safety and efficiency of the operations.
  49. Air Port Authority of India and Other Aerodrome Operators including Military airports should be sensitive to the need of General Aviation Aircraft and Helicopters and should earmark parking places which are easily accessible or alternately make arrangements to provide transportation for the crew members and passengers to ferry them from parking bays to ATC and other places.
  50. The coordination and management of the parking of the aircraft, helicopters should be well planned and vehicle movement should be prevented, restricted or controlled on the apron area. No concession should be made for any political party to run vehicles freely on the apron area.
  51. The India Met Department, which has improved its weather forecasting over a period of time and is doing a very good job, should facilitate latest weather information in the areas of operations throughout the country and keep the Operators and Pilots updated with the latest weather and its trend. Close monitoring of changes in weather conditions particularly in area of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa which are affected by Kal Baisakhi during Mar to May should be ensured. There is a need for the IMD to be more sensitive to the need of the operators and cater for time to time weather related inputs to the Pilots.
  52. Most of the points covered above are equally applicable to Fixed Wing Pilots who also will be undertaking election flying at a very feverish pace under stressful conditions. They need to be alert, vigilant and take due precautions.

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Maintain a mental picture of the required descent profile.

Request distance updates from ATC if required.

Advise ATC as soon as possible if descent is required or additional   track miles are needed, to execute a stable approach.

The sooner ATC knows, the greater is the probability that the request can be accommodated.

Be aware of published local ATC procedures/airspace restrictions   that impact the approach.

Airspace constraints may result in route and altitude restrictions.

As far as possible, minimise differences (ATC cannot be aware of all the variables e.g. aircraft performance, airline SOPs, etc.).

When departing, Tell ATC if it is likely that further time will be needed on the runway, prior accepting a clearance to enter the runway.

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Illusions occur when conditions modify the pilot’s perception of the environment relative to his or her expectations possibly resulting in spatial disorientation or landing errors.

Visual Landing at night presents greater risk because of fewer references and because of illusions or SD.

Factors Affecting Visual Illusions.

Runway environment

Runway dimensions.

Runway slope.

Terrain drop off at the approach end of runway.

Approach lighting and runway lighting.

Runway condition.

Weather Conditions

Cloud Ceiling.


Obstruction to vision.

Visual Illusions (VI).

VI most critical when transitioning from IMC and instrument reference to VMC and visual reference.

VI affect situational awareness (SA) particularly while on base leg and during final approach.

VI usually induce crew inputs that cause the ac to deviate from vertical or horizontal flight path.

VI can affect the decision process of when and how rapidly to descend from MDA/H.

  1.  Uphill slope of Runway or Helipad gives illusion of being too high.
  2. Downhill slope of Runway or Helipad gives illusion of being too low.
  3. A wide or short runway creates an impression of being too low.
  4.  A narrow or long RW creates an impression of too high.
  5. Approach, RW including touch down zone lighting affect depth perception depending on light intensity, day or night conditions and weather conditions.
  6.  Bright lights create impression of being closer to the RW.
  7. Low intensity Ltsfarther away from the RW.
  8. Nonstandard Lts modify the pilot’s perception.
  9. If RW lighting partially visible-on base leg or circling approach, RW may appear farther away.
  10. Flying in haze creates the impression that RW is farther away inducing a tendency to shallow glide path and land long.
  11. In light rain, the RW may appear indistinct because of the rain halo effect increasing risk of misperception of vertical/horizontal deviation.
  12. Heavy rain affects depth perception and distance perception.
  13. Rain on wind shield creates refraction effect that causes crew to believe the ac too high.
  14. Day light, rain reduces intensity of lights resulting in impression of being further away.
  15. Night time rain increases the apparent brilliance of the ALS making RW appear close.
  16. When breaking out at both min ceiling and visibility minimum, the slant Vis may not be sufficient for crew to see farther bars of VASI/PAPI thus reducing visual clues.
  17.  In cross wind, RW light and environment will appear at an angle to ac heading, resist the tendency to align with center line.
  18. A wet RW, reflects very little light, affecting depth perceptions, impression of ac farther away, resulting late flare and hard landing.


  • Unconscious modification of ac trajectory to maintain a constant perception of visual reference.
  • Natural tendency to descend below glide slope or path, inability to judge the proper flare point because of restricted visual references (hard landings before reaching touch down point).
  • Inadequate reference to instruments to support visual segments.
  • Failure to detect the deterioration of visual references.
  • Failure to monitor the instruments and the flight path because both pilots are involved in the identification of visual references.

  Guard Against Adverse Effects of Visual Illusions

Flight Crew should be aware of:-

Weather factors.

Surrounding Terrain and obstacles.

Assess the airport environment, airport and RW hazards.

Adhere to defined PF/PNF task sharing after transition to visual flying.

PF to monitor outside visual reference while referring to instrument references to support and monitor flt path.

Monitoring by PNF of head down references while PF Flies.

Situational Awareness

There’s always lots of talk about enhancing it, but what is it to begin with, and why do pilots need it?

Over the last couple of decades, there’s been a growing realization within aviation’s training and safety arenas about situational awareness. The conversation generally involves ways to enhance situational awareness in the cockpit and often concentrates on technological solutions, like moving maps, or displaying real-time traffic and weather. The presumption is that greater situational awareness is better and that all of us have at least some measure of this characteristic.

What’s often omitted from these discussions is some base definition of what situational awareness, or SA, actually is and how it contributes to safety. Pilots usually are ready and willing to embrace something that enhances safety but so much of the jargon tossed around fails to provide the kind of context and explanations needed for complete understanding. Put yet another way, pilots truly are the creatures of (often bad) habit we’ve been told about since primary training, and we often need a whack or two to get our attention when something different comes along.

Defining SA

The FAA’s Risk Management Handbook (FAA-H-8083-2) defines SA as “the accurate perception and understanding of all the factors and conditions within the four fundamental risk elements (pilot, aircraft, environment, and type of operation) that affect safety before, during, and after the flight.” That’s all-encompassing, but lacks detail and requires pilots to intrinsically understand it. It has too many syllables. For example, how accurate must a pilot’s perception or understanding of “all the factors and conditions” be?

The U.S. Coast Guard defines it a bit differently: “Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.” (emphasis in the original). The Coast Guard’s definition is a bit easier to digest—identifying, processing and comprehending are less vague than perception and understanding. The kicker at the end— knowing what is going on around you—distills the concept down to something simple enough that even pilots can understand it.

In our view, the FAA’s use of the term “all” tends to be daunting for pilots, even though they’re accustomed to similar demands from the agency (e.g., FAR 91.103’s requirement that pilots “become familiar with all available information” about a flight before taking off). But “knowing what’s going on around you” is simpler, cleaner and an easier demand for pilots to meet. So that’s what we’ll use going forward.

Losing SA

A simple way to explain SA is to consider the classic controlled-flight into terrain (CFIT) accident in which a perfectly good airplane is flown into a mountain. That mountain didn’t just pop up to the pilot’s cruising altitude overnight. It’s been there for millennia, it’s been charted and the area’s minimum en route altitudes consider it. How could the accident pilot not know it was there?

The quick answer is the pilot probably did know the mountain existed, but lost track of his own position. He assuredly displayed poor SA, but also ignored various clues that his SA was inadequate. Those clues can include confusion and ambiguity (where am I?), improper procedures and/or regulatory non-compliance (descending below safe altitudes), failing to resolve a discrepancy (knowing the airplane is at the wrong altitude or location but failing to correct it) and fixation or preoccupation with unrelated tasks (why is my iPad overheating?).

One other clue deserves attention here, at least as far as single-pilot operations are concerned: task saturation. We’ve all had dark and stormy nights with low fuel, an intermittent electrical failure, a passenger giving birth and a red light for a nosegear indicator. Task saturation also is insidious: We’re too busy to recognize we’re overloaded.

The Two-Challenge Rule

The two-challenge rule is often attributed to aviation when it’s adopted in other professions. But perhaps because two-pilot crews are relatively rare in general aviation, the concept hasn’t really trickled down to us in the same way. The rule allows one crewmember to automatically assume the duties of one who fails to respond to two consecutive challenges.

For example, presume the pilot flying (PF) exhibits an unsafe attitude or loss of SA. The pilot not flying (PNF) first asks the PF if he or she is aware of the problem. If the PF does not acknowledge this challenge, the PNF issues a second one. If the PF fails to acknowledge the second challenge, the PNF assumes control of the aircraft. This rule has a history of working well with multi-pilot crews, but seems next to useless for the vast majority of general aviation flying.

Two Pilots

Errors And Mistakes

Pilots commit errors and make mistakes. According to the Coast Guard, the two are not the same: “Mistakes are failures in planning. Mistakes almost always have to do with the selection of objectives and the time required to achieve them.” Asking yourself, “What can go wrong?” or “What am I missing?” can reduce mistakes.

Errors on the other hand “are flawed execution; incorrect actions based on either correct or incorrect information.” Because these are human errors, single-pilot operators seem less likely to identify them and, consequently, unable to make a correction. That’s a problem for many of us in GA (and is a fundamental reason for commercial aviation’s improved safety record).

Getting Back Your SA

There’s a lot of material in the literature about what SA is and how we can lose it. Perhaps there’s not so much on regaining it, but aviation might be unique in the sense that once we identify loss of SA, there are some things we can do to help us regain it.

Once we realize we’ve lost some portion of our SA, we need to identify the reason we lost it in the first place. Distraction, fatigue and inattention are likely causes, and each have obvious remedies. Whatever the reason, it seems useful to focus on the things we don’t know about the flight: How much fuel do we have remaining? What’s the ETA? How’s the destination weather holding up? If I had to land right now, where would it be? These always are important things to know, and form a foundation of good SA in the cockpit. Focusing on these questions and their answers is a pretty good place to start regaining your SA.

In addition to being a critical component of aircraft operation, situational awareness is fundamental to risk management. Pilots cannot assess or mitigate risk without a clear understanding of their situation.

Improving Situational Awareness

No one has perfect situational awareness—there’s always some aspect of a complicated task or operation we forget. Consider these recommendations on ways to improve your SA:

Predict The Future
Think ahead of the airplane. Where will it be in five minutes? Ten? What likely will happen when it reaches decision altitude on the approach you’re about to fly?

Identify Threats
Monitor, detect and recognize the events and factors that pose risk to your flight. Once you react to them, how will they respond?

Trust Your Gut
If something tells you things are not right, maybe things are not right. Be suspicious and verify your perceptions, then respond.

Minimize Task Overload
Trying to configure the airplane for an approach as you cope with a sick passenger and a failed landing gear position indicator is a recipe for failure. Do one thing at a time.

Avoid Complacency
Everything might be fine, but it’s always a good idea to presume the worst, at least until you can verify the situation.

Fight Fatigue
Adjust your rest and work routines to ensure you get adequate sleep before flying.

Perform Constant SA Assessments
Whether involving weather, traffic, equipment status or fuel, changing circumstances are a given. Continually assess the situation and be prepared for change.

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Approach Landing Accident Reduction.

Inadequate professional judgment/airmanship was a causal factor in 74 percent of the accidents and serious incidents;

Failure in CRM (crew coordination, cross-check and backup) was a causal factor in 63 percent of the events.

 Incorrect interaction with automation was a causal factor in 20 percent of the events.

Golden Rules for Abnormal Conditions and Emergency Conditions.

The following golden rules may assist flight crews in their decision making in any abnormal condition or emergency condition, but particularly if encountering a condition not covered by the published procedures.

 Understand the Prevailing Condition before taking Decision.

 Incorrect decisions often are the result of incorrect recognition of the prevailing condition and/or incorrect identification of the prevailing condition.

 Assess Risks and Time Pressures.

 Take time to make time when possible (e.g., request a holding pattern or radar vectors).

 Evaluate the Available Options.

 Weather conditions, crew preparedness, type of operation, airport proximity and self-confidence should be considered in selecting the preferred option.

 Include all flight crew members, cabin crew members, ATC and company maintenance technicians, as required, in this evaluation.

 Match the Response to the Condition.

 An emergency condition requires immediate action (this does not mean rushed action), whereas an abnormal condition may tolerate a delayed action.

 Consider All Implications, Plan for Contingencies.

 Consider all the aspects of continuing the flight through the landing.

 Manage Workload-Priortise.

 Adhere to the defined task sharing for abnormal/emergency conditions to reduce workload and to optimize crew resources.

 Use the AP and A/THR to alleviate PF workload.

 Use the proper level of automation for the prevailing condition.

Errors in using automatic flight systems (AFSs) and insufficient knowledge of AFS operation have been contributing factors in approach-and-landing accidents and incidents, including those involving controlled flight into terrain.

Visual Illusions.

The absence or the loss of visual references is the most common primary causal factor in ALAs involving CFIT.

These accidents result from:

 Descending below the minimum descent altitude/height (MDA[H]) or decision altitude/height (DA[H]) without adequate visual references or having acquired incorrect visual references (e.g., a lighted area in the airport vicinity, a taxiway or another runway).

 Continuing the approach after the loss of visual references (e.g., because of a fast-moving rain shower or fog patch).

Visual approaches at night typically present a greater risk because of fewer visual references, and because of visual illusions and spatial disorientation.

It has been found that disorientation, visual illusions were a causal factor in 21 percent of the 76 ALAs and serious incidents, and that poor visibility was a circumstantial factor in 59 percent of the accidents and incidents.

The following weather conditions can create visual illusions:

 Ceiling and visibility (vertical, slant and horizontal visibility).

 Flying in light rain, fog, haze, mist, smoke, dust, glare or darkness usually creates an illusion of being too high.

 Shallow fog (i.e., a fog layer not exceeding 300 feet thickness) results in a low obscuration and in low horizontal.

 When on top of a shallow fog layer, the ground (or airport and runway, if flying overhead) can be seen; but when entering the fog layer, forward visibility and slant visibility are lost.

 Entering a fog layer also creates the perception of a pitch-up, which causes the pilot to respond with a nose- down correction that steepens the approach path.

 Flying in haze creates the impression that the runway is farther away, inducing a tendency to shallow the glide path and land long.

 In light rain or moderate rain, the runway may appear indistinct because of the “rain halo effect,” increasing the risk of misperception of the vertical deviation or horizontal deviation during the visual segment (the segment flown after transition from instrument references to visual references).

 Heavy rain affects depth perception and distance perception.

 Rain on a windshield creates refraction effects that cause the crew to believe that the aircraft is too high, resulting in an unwarranted nose-down correction and flight below the desired flight path.

 In daylight conditions, rain diminishes the apparent intensity.

To guard against the adverse effects of visual illusions, flight crews should be aware of all weather factors.

 Be aware of surrounding terrain and obstacles.

 Assess the airport environment, airport and runway hazards  and adhere to defined PF-PM task-sharing after the transition to visual flying including monitoring by the PF of outside visual references while referring to instrument references to support and monitor the flight path during the visual portion of the approach

 Monitoring by the PM of head-down references while the PF flies and looks outside, for effective cross-check and backup.

To manually fly a safe go-around, adhere to the three- golden rule, Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate.

 Set and maintain the pitch-attitude target.

 Set and check go-around thrust; and check

The aircraft performance, positive rate of climb, airspeed at or above VREF, speed brakes retracted, radio-altimeter indication and barometric-altimeter indication increasing, wings level, gear up, flaps as required.

 While conducting the go-around, adherence to the defined PF- PM  task-sharing and the optimum use of crew resource management (e.g., for monitoring flight parameters and calling any excessive flight parameter deviation) are of paramount importance.

 The manual go-around technique must minimize the initial altitude loss and prevent an excessive nose-up pitch attitude by following FD pitch commands, not exceeding the ultimate pitch attitude applicable to the aircraft type.


 The following should be emphasized when discussing CFIT awareness and response to GPWS/TAWS warnings.

 Situational awareness must be maintained at all times.

 Preventive actions (ideally) must be taken before a GPWS/TAWS warning;.

 Response to a GPWS/TAWS warning by the pilot flying (PF) must be immediate.

 The PM must monitor and call the radio altitude and its trend throughout the terrain-avoidance maneuver.

 The pull-up maneuver must be continued at maximum climb performance until the warning has ceased and terrain is cleared (radio altimeter).

Wet and Contaminated Runways.

Conditions associated with landing on a wet runway or a runway contaminated by standing water, snow, slush or ice requires a thorough review before beginning the approach.

 The presence on the runway of water, snow, slush or ice adversely affects the aircraft’s braking performance by reducing the friction force between the tires and the runway surface and creating a layer of fluid between the tires and the runway, which reduces the contact area and leads to a risk of hydroplaning.

Directional control should be maintained on a contaminated runway by using the rudder pedals and differential braking as required.

Nose wheel steering should not be used at speeds higher than taxi speed because the nose wheels can hydroplane.

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Safety Guidelines- Helicopter Operations in Snow Bound Areas with Particular Emphasis On Operations Ex Srinagar

Safety Guidelines- Helicopter Operations in Snow Bound Areas with Particular Emphasis On Operations Ex Srinagar

Before Flight.

1. Familiarise yourself with the Srinagar Airport, its lay out, frequencies, Nav Aids, Radar, Restricted, Prohibited and Danger Areas.

2. Specific SOP for operations from Srinagar Airport, with particular emphasis on type of take-off and approaches, to be carried out, keeping in mind the threat of small arms fire, must be known and practiced.

3. Get to know the routes to the various Helipads and know the location of prohibited, restricted, danger and Security Threat Areas and avoid them.

4. Plan and prepare thoroughly for the flight with particular emphasis on weather, terrain, minimum enroute altitude, and safe altitude, minimum off route altitude.

5.  SOP for the helipads should be known and followed meticulously.

6. Have proper briefing between the crew members before Flight.

7. Duties and responsibilities of the Pilot and Co Pilot must be clearly defined particularly during contingency like bad weather, poor visibility, blowing snow leading to white out, snow blindness.

8. Disorientation, illusions and consequent loss of Situation awareness can occur while operating in snow bound areas. Watch out.

9. Be thorough about Emergency procedures and revise critical emergencies before flight so that both the pilot and co-pilot are aware of emergency actions.

10. Prepare your maps as per routing and study the terrain.

11. The Briefing of the Ground personnel manning the Helipads and the briefing of passengers is of paramount importance.

12. Special care should be taken during boarding and de boarding of passengers while rotors are running to ensure that the passengers do not get into tail or main rotor.

13.  All the boarding and de boarding is done between 10 and 2, O Clock position which can be monitored by Pilots.

14. During boarding and de boarding, the passenger should bend down so that there is safe clearance between the rotors and passengers.

15. The Ground staff manning the helipad should be briefed accordingly to ensure strict compliance of the instructions.

16. The passenger should be briefed about dos and don’ts and the position they should take in the event of force landing.

17. Ground staff/Pilots should ensure that passenger do not carry any dangerous goods by mistake or deliberately.

18. Ensure that there are no loose clothing items on the body of the passengers and ground personnel which can fly off and get into the rotors.

19. Ground personnel must be briefed on this aspect and there should be no loose articles which can fly off during approach, hover, landing and rotors running in and around the vicinity of the Helipad.

20. The ground staff manning the helipad should be properly briefed to make sure that there is no loose snow on the helipad and also in short final area and take off area.

21. Pilots should interact with AME, Technician to ensure that the servicing, maintenance and DI is done properly.

22. Due to extreme cold Temperatures, there may be a physical limitation or tendency on the part of maintenance crew to take short cuts or miss out on some checks.

23. Inadequate lights for servicing and maintenance work particularly during poor visibility conditions may result in maintenance crew missing out on some leaks or cracks etc. They need to be very careful.

24. Heavy winter clothing may restrict the movement of hands and feet of the pilots and maintenance personnel leading to safety compromise on checks and maintenance. Be aware.

25. Chances of maintenance personnel leaving tools inadvertently in the ENGINE, GEAR BOX COMPARTMENT ETC cannot be ruled out particularly during very low temperature and adverse weather conditions. This needs due attention.

26. During maintenance and external checks, chances of pilots, maintenance personnel slipping due to slippery surface caused by frost, snow and Ice. Be cautious.

27. Sometimes the pilot’s feet may slip on the rudder pedals because of the snow, ice on the shoe bottom. Take adequate precautions.

28. Carry out proper external, internal checks.

Check the serviceability of demister, pitot heat and use as required.

29. Carry out proper fuel and load planning keeping various contingencies in mind.

30. Carry out proper risk assessment keeping in mind the limitation of Pilot, Helicopter, weather and terrain and decide whether to undertake the flight or continue the flight.

During Flight.

30. Follow the SOP Route.

31. Keep a close watch on weather and the terrain.

32. Respect the weather and read the signs of deterioration of the weather.

33. Make a decision in time to return or divert to protected and safe areas.

34. With snow fall, the perspective of the terrain changes and one may not be able to orientate with the terrain and may feel unsure of position. Be careful and follow correct directions as per map reading.

35. Know the correct valley directions on map and GPS lest you enter wrong valley. Check, recheck and double check to ensure that you are in correct valley.

36. Minimum height clearance for clearing the peaks, ridges, passes is 1000 ft. and always cross them at 45 degree angle to enable you to turn into valley in case of down draft

36. Calculate your density altitude and power required and available and margin of power.

37. High elevation, high all up weight and tail winds are dangerous combination.

38. Approach, Landing and Take-off are very critical in snow bound areas since margin of safety are low due to high task requirement. Hence, it is essential for both the pilots to be very alert, vigilant and situationally aware.

39. If required carry out high and low recce of the helipad to ascertain surface conditions, obstructions.

40. Check that the surface of the helipad is prepared for landing and chances of blowing snow are minimum.

41. Carry out approach as per SOP ensuring correct perspective, height, and speed combination.

42. Keep in mind the aspect of vortex ring and loss of tail rotor effectiveness.

43. Look out for any blowing snow, loose articles.

44. If the risk of snow blowing is high, do not land at the helipad.

45. If snow blowing causes degradation in visibility and the pilot feels uncomfortable, a go around should be initiated in time.

46. However, if the blowing snow is not very heavy and the Pilot is able to see the surface of the helipad, then continue to descend to touch down, without coming to hover.

47. Never make the mistake of hovering over loose snow.

48. Generally with experience, it has been found that the surface area below the helicopter is visible when the snow is blowing since it blows away from the helicopter and the area below the hull is visible. However, it may not always be true due to erratic strong wind conditions.

49. If uncomfortable any time, then raise collective, climb attitude, climb speed and power and climb away with wings level monitoring positive climb and helicopter gaining altitude.

50. Never hover on the loose snow hoping that it will blow away unless you are very sure. You might get in the snow bowl and loose orientation.

51. Any time unstable during approach or unsure, go round in time.

52. Once on the helipad, firmly on ground, lower the collective gently and ensure that the helicopter does not tilt in any direction and skids do not sink beyond permissible limits.

53. During the touch down and lift off, guard against Dynamic Roll Over which can happen if one skid sinks in the loose snow more than the other causing the helicopter to tilt.

54. Landing onto sloping helipad and or in strong cross wind conditions can also lead to Dynamic Roll Over.

55. Sometime, the skids may freeze on ground due to snow which may cause difficulty during pick up. Keep this factor in mind and exercise caution.

56. Hover and initial take off from prepared surface of the helipad may pose no problem immediately but as the helicopter moves out of the helipad during take-off, the loose snow may start blowing and with snow all around, in the absence of any feature, the chances of disorientation and white out are high.

57. This is a critical phase and both pilots should be alert, vigilant and make sure that the helicopter is in proper climb attitude, climb power, speed and altimeter VSI are showing positive climb.

58. In case of rising terrain, it becomes much more important to ensure positive climb.

59. Be careful during turns, keep a close watch on angle of bank, speed and positive climb. During turns over snow, one may feel disorientated. Be careful.

60. Snow blindness and white out are main hazards while operating in snow bound areas.

61. Chances of disorientation are high in snow bound areas due to lack of any features or pin points.

62. In case of bad weather, poor visibility and  white out conditions which may lead to  disorientation, the pilot flying should get onto instruments, should fly on basic instruments ,that is height,speed,direction and must not try to look outside while flying on instruments.

63.The Co Pilot should monitor outside visual references, his own instruments, Pilots instruments, compare both the instruments and correct the Pilot flying if any errors are committed by him.

64. Chances of the Pilot flying getting fixated on one instrument are high and both the Pilot flying and Co-Pilot should be aware of this aspect and pilot flying should scan the instruments and co-pilot should  correct  the Pilot flying if he is committing any error.

65. Both the pilots should be alert, vigilant and situationally aware at all time.

66. It is essential to have good CRM and remember the Golden Rule in Aviation that is AVIATE-NAVIGATE AND COMMUNICATE.

67. Priority should always be on controlling the helicopter and both the pilots should not get distracted due to any reason and one pilot should always be on controls and flying.

68. Always keep a safe get away from bad weather in mind and decide in time to return or divert without hoping for better luck thinking that weather ahead may improve.

69. Don’t get misled by the weather report given by ground staff who may mislead you due to their vested interest in getting the passengers airlifted to their destination.

70. The area of operations is in close proximity of the hostile border.

71. Sometime the GPS signals may be jammed by enemy or may be lost due to other reasons.

72. Be prepared to shift to map reading.

73. In any case, one should be always prepare the maps and do map reading regardless of the assistance of GPS.

74. The operations being very close to the border, it becomes very essential to map read in conjunction with GPS inputs and be very alert and vigilant lest one strays or go close  to enemy territory.

75. Proper crew coordination is very essential particularly during approach, landing and take-off, go around operations.

76. Check recheck and double check the altimeter setting and cross check with Radio altimeter.

77. Similarly check, recheck and double check the Coordinates fed in the GPS.

78. Do not follow GPS blindly and map read to cross check.

79. Option of precautionary Landing in case unable to continue due bad weather must be exercised with due caution since except security protected areas, any suitable landing site out of security cordon may not be safe.

80. Always know the distance and location of security protected helipads, airfields in mind so that you can proceed to these places if required in emergency.

81. The Pitot heat and demister should be serviceable and used when required and switched off when not required.

82. Move controls gently from time to time while flying to ensure that the pitch changing arms do not get frozen.

Miscellaneous Points.

83.Visit the ATC and get fully familiar with Srinagar Airport, Circuit area, Restricted, Prohibited and Danger areas, frequencies,Nav Aids, Radar frequency etc.

84. Get to know the frequencies in which the aircraft, helicopters are operating in the valley as well as enroute helipads.

85. Air Traffic is likely to be quite dense with Air Force fighters, transport and helicopters in addition to Army, State Govt and civil helicopters operating in the valley.

86. Get to know the SOP followed by Military and civil pilots for operations.

87. Give blind calls wherever required as per SOP.

88. Know your Emergency Response Plans and action to be taken in emergency or precautionary, Force Landing.

89. Never take chance with the weather, serviceability of the helicopter and security.

90. No mission is so important that it cannot be undertaken at other time or next day.

91. Fly professionally and safely.

92. No heroics or macho attitude.

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                        PRECAUTIONS  DURING  WINTER  FLYING

  1. Winter is approaching fast and with it, the associated flying hazards during Winter Season. Number of accidents/serious incidents have occurred around the world during winter months. The accident of Air India, Air Bus 320, at Jaipur, on 05 Jan 14, which fortunately did not result in casualties, highlights the need for involvement by all stakeholders to prevent any accident/incidents. Unfortunately, no lessons are learnt from the investigation reports of the accidents and history continues to repeat itself.
  1. Aviation Safety Management Society of India, which is dedicated to promote Safety and Efficiency of Aviation Operations in the country, wishes to disseminate certain precautions which should be taken by the Operators/Pilots during winter flying, to prevent any incident/accident.

Hazards During Winter Flying.

  1. Fog and low clouds leading to almost zero visibility conditions, wet, slippery runways, frost, icing and snow blindness/white out are a major flight safety hazard during winter months particularly in Northern, North Eastern and to some extent in Western parts of India.
  2. Formation of fog, its thickening and improvement in visibility are quite unpredictable.
  3. Most of the times, the fog thickens at sunrise and may last for long hours before clearing or may not clear for hours or even days.
  4. Whenever the surface temperature and dew point temperature are very close to each other, dense fog can be expected.
  5. There may be occasions when the fog is very widespread and it may be difficult to find a diversionary airfield in hundreds of kilometers of the destination airfield.
  6. Low clouds may form quickly as the fog lifts and cover large areas, particularly in the hilly regions, they can cover the entire valleys, without any gaps for penetration.
  7. Lack of Visual reference due Poor Visibility can lead to Visual Illusions, Spatial Disorientation, Loss of Situational Awareness and consequent CFIT accidents.
  8. Western Disturbances in Northern India/North East Monsoons in Tamilnadu Region, associated with Thunderstorms, low clouds, poor visibility and wet/contaminated Runways present flight safety hazards.


Precautions during Winter Flying.


  1. The Accountable Executives/Managers should ensure that all the Pilots have gone through the necessary flying and ground training with added emphasis on Low Visibility Operations.
  2. All the pilots should be current in instrument flying, should have undergone Low Visibility Operations Training (LVO) and clearances etc. as per DGCA CAR. Good knowledge of DGCA CAR on All Weather Operations is essential for safety.
  3. In depth knowledge about the aircraft, systems, procedures, understanding the phenomenon of visual illusions, spatial disorientation, recovery from unusual situations, strict adherence to SOP’s, rules, regulations and good CRM are key to successful accomplishment of the mission.
  4. Operators/Accountable Executives, Air Crew, Ground Crew and Dispatchers should be fully aware about the winter hazards, phenomenon of fog and human factors limitations.
  5. The involvement of Accountable Executives, Supervisors and Operation staff in close monitoring of operations during marginal weather conditions is an essential requirement for the safety of operations.
  6. Professional planning and preparation for the flight is an inescapable necessity and should not be ignored. Pre Flight briefing for operations during poor visibility conditions should be much more comprehensive and the pilots must plan for contingencies for sudden deterioration of weather/visibility.
  7. Thorough weather briefing and knowledge of the terrain and obstructions around the runways must be ensured before undertaking any flying. Briefing from the Met Department and various Weather Sites should be complemented with the experience of having operated in particular area or region. Knowledge of typical weather phenomenon affecting particular areas during winters is of paramount importance
  8. Although most of the time the Met Forecast is reasonably accurate yet there have been instances when pilots have got caught in very poor visibility conditions, may be due to inaccurate Met forecast or lack of  intelligent weather  analysis on the part of the Pilots. Hence, these aspects must be kept in mind while planning flying during winter months.
  9. A very high level of situational awareness must be achieved related to prevailing weather and its trends, terrain, availability and serviceability of Nav, Approach aids, watch hours and weather conditions at the neighboring airports.
  10. Continuous Monitoring of the weather situation at the destination with particular emphasis on visibility and RVR through ATIS, RT communication and other aircraft operating in the general area of your route and destination is strongly recommended.
  11. Pilots must be aware about the timings, extent, duration and severity of fog.
  12. Special precautions need to be taken while flying during night, Dawn / dusk and Circadian Low. Night flying during winters should be undertaken with extra caution since poor visibility due fog during night flying is a serious hazard.
  13. Use of landing lights during approach in foggy conditions should be as per SOP and situation, since it may degrade the visibility, lead to visual illusions and disorientation.
  14. Timely and sound decision making based on the overall situational awareness, should be inculcated among the pilots. Overconfidence and complacency must be kept under check.
  15. Operations to and from Delhi airport during winter months foggy conditions are very challenging and pilots need to be very alert, vigilant and plan diversions well in time lest they get caught into complicated situation.
  16. Meticulous fuel planning as per the CAR is of paramount importance and must not be ignored. Contingency fuel to cater for unexpected delays/diversions due weather may be considered. Remember fuel is life.
  17. Fuel planning and close monitoring of the fuel state is of great importance since one may be forced to divert due to poor visibility conditions and most of the time a diversion may not be easily available due to widespread fog.
  18. Runway condition must be monitored very closely and special care taken during taxiing, takeoff and landing to avoid slipping, skidding, runway excursion and overruns.
  19. Do not succumb to the commercial pressures, on time performance, passenger related pressures, inconvenience, job demands and always evaluate the factors related to self, aircraft, weather, terrain and the associated risks, before undertaking or continuing the flight.
  20. Follow standard operating procedures meticulously and do not hesitate to go around if unstable approach or divert in time if situation demands


Additional points for Helicopters.


  1. Generally Helicopters fly at low levels below 2000 Ft AGL and Pilots in their eagerness to complete the task, tend to descend below minimum safe altitude when faced with fog or low clouds to stay in ground contact.
  2. Most of the Helicopter pilots do not have the advantage of the EGPWS, Auto Pilot, reliable instruments or the Co Pilot
  3. By virtue of their operations at low levels to helipads in the particularly in the hills and over water, the chances of Helicopter Pilots getting disorientated, with consequent CFIT accidents are high.
  4. Helicopter pilots should be aware of the limitation of the Helicopter and their own limitations and must plan and prepare thoroughly with particular emphasis on weather, terrain and minimum safe altitude.
  5. Ground contact flying should be the rule for helicopter pilots unless  the Helicopter is suitable for IFR flight and the Pilots are qualified and IR rated. For IFR flights both the departure and arrival airport should be equipped with suitable IFR aids.
  6. Spatial disorientation and loss of Situational Awareness are some of the serious challenges and hazard during poor visibility conditions. Hill   shadows and flying into sun can result in late siting of obstructions or terrain. Be knowledgeable about these hazards.
  7. While flying with reference to instruments, resist the temptation of looking outside while flying on instruments. This can lead to spatial disorientation.
  8. Single pilot operations particularly in the hills are much more  challenging and the need for Single pilot to be very thorough in his/her planning, preparation, knowledge and timely decision making cannot be overemphasized.
  9. Know the terrain and route safety altitudes well and plan your levels accordingly. Check, recheck and double check the altitude and make sure the altimeter setting is correct and the readings on pressure and Radio Altimeter are matching.
  10. Know the obstructions in your area of operations. Pylons, communication/chimney towers, electric/telephone cables, trolley cables particularly in hilly areas pose a major hazard and knowledge of these is important for helicopter pilots.
  11. Trolley cables come up in hilly areas to cart apples from one hillock to  other and vigilance is required to look out for the same. Kindly intimate other operators in your area of operations about the existence of such hazards and mark them on maps.
  12. Operations in snow bound areas require special skill levels. Special briefing and training is essential for safe operations in these areas. Snow blindness (white out), blowing snow during pick up, hover and sit down, skids/wheels getting stuck in snow, slippery conditions while on snow or melting of snow during long hours of operations and disorientation (White out) are some of the aspects which need to be taken into account for snow bound area operations.
  13. Ice formation at high altitudes is a serious hazard. Anti-icing measures like serviceable and available ice detectors, heating elements, need for frequent movement of controls to prevent jamming of controls due ice formation, knowledge about freezing level and potential of ice formation are some of the areas which require the  attention of the Operators/Pilots.
  14. Before takeoff at high altitudes and low temperature conditions, ensure  that the main, tail rotor blades and other surface areas are free of ice and frost formation.
  15. Check the manufacturer’s instructions about adding anti –icing additives in the fuel and use proper additive as required.
  16. Check and ensure the serviceability of wind screen wipers, pitot heaters. Do not forget to switch on pitot heaters whenever required and switching them off on landing.
  17. Be aware that snow fall can change the appearance of the terrain and perspective during takeoff/landing.
  18. Helicopter batteries need to be maintained properly and protected during night from extreme cold temperatures by keeping them in warm rooms or wrapping in blankets etc.
  19. Cracking of various seals can take place and must be checked periodically.
  20. Engineer and technicians should ensure thoroughness during their maintenance and servicing activities. Tendency to take short cuts due to very cold temperatures should be avoided.
  21. Low light conditions during winter months may result in minor cracks or other small defects getting overlooked. Ensure adequate lighting for servicing and maintenance work.
  22. Maintenance staff should be careful while climbing on the helicopter for maintenance work since surface may be slippery due to frost, icing etc.
  23. Take special precautions during taxiing and maintain very good look out for obstructions, aircraft and vehicles.
  24. Do not succumb to commercial pressures, VIP pressure, peer pressure, Self-imposed pressure, job demands, and personal convenience. Never take chances with the poor weather conditions and don’t be overconfident or macho. Overconfidence has taken the lives of many pilots.
  25. There may be occasions when frustration may set in because of the delays and postponement of departure timings/dates and long wait on ground due prolonged bad weather spells. Number of pilots have taken chances with weather under such conditions and have met with serious /fatal accidents. Please be aware of the grave danger under such conditions and take very considered decisions.
  26. Although efforts have been made to include as many precautions to be taken during winter flying, as possible, yet some points may have been missed out. Operators may like to add some aspects which may be typical to their area of operations.
  27. Operators should always endeavor to match the man with the machine, mission and weather conditions. Adequate instrument flying practice, simulator flying, currency, recency in area of operations, comprehensive briefing covering the entire spectrum of the various aspects of the operations, maintenance and monitoring performance are key to the successful conduct of the operations.
  28. Respecting the weather and courage of conviction to say no if the safety of the flight is likely to be compromised must be impressed upon the pilots.


ASMSI wishes you all safe and efficient flying operations during winters.

Many Many Happy landings.


Air Commodore BS Siwach AVSM YSM VM

Director General, ASMSI

  • -

Winter Precautions : Safety Aspects – Flying During Winters

  • Fog is a major flight safety hazard during winter months particularly in Northern, Eastern and to some extent in western India. Awareness about the phenomenon of fog is very essential for the pilots in particular. Pilots must be aware about the timings, extent, duration and severity of fog. Formation of fog and clearing of weather is very unpredictable. Although most of the time the met forecast is reasonably accurate yet there are many instances when pilots have got caught in very poor visibility conditions. Hence, it is very important for all operators to keep the hazards of winter flying in mind while planning flying.
  • All the pilots should be current in instrument flying and should have undergone Ow Visibility Operations Training as per DGCA CAR.
  • Thorough weather briefing must be obtained before undertaking any flying. Met office and internet are the sources which should be complemented with the experience of operating in particular area or region. Knowledge of typical weather phenomenon during winters will be of paramount importance.
  • As far as possible, avoid flying during the early morning and late evening hours. Most of the times, the fog thickens at sunrise and may last for long hours before clearing or may not even clear for days.
  • Special precautions need to be taken while flying during night, dawn/ dusk. Night flying during winters should be undertaken with extra caution since poor visibility during night flying is a serious hazard.
  • Low clouds which form as the fog is dissipating can be a serious hazard for flying during winter months and this aspect needs to be kept in mind. Low clouds may form very quickly and cover larger areas and particularly in the hilly regions, they can cover the entire valleys without any gaps for penetration.
  • Fuel planning is of great importance since one may be forced to divert due to poor visibility conditions and most of the time, a diversion may not be easily available due to widespread fog.
  • For Helicopters, it is always advisable to land at a suitable site if unable to proceed rather than persisting with the  hope  to find clear areas. This can be fatal at times.
  • Ground contact flying should be the rule for helicopter pilots.
  • Spatial disorientation is one of the serious challenge and hazard during poor vis conditions. Be familiar about it.
  • Trust your instruments. In two pilot configurations, if the situation demands, then one pilot should be totally on instruments and other looking outside. Firmly resist the temptation of flying on instruments as well as looking out. This can be dangerous.
  • Know the terrain and route safety altitudes well and plan your levels accordingly. Check, recheck and double check.
  • Know the obstructions in your area of operations. Pylons, communication/chimney towers, electric/telephone cables, trolley cables particularly in hilly areas. All these obstructions pose a major hazard and knowledge of these is important specially for helicopter pilots.
  • Trolley cables come up in hilly areas to cart apples from one hillock to other and vigilance is required to look for the same. Kindly intimate other operators in your area of operations about the existence of such hazards and mark them on maps.
  • Operations in snow bound areas require special skill levels, Special briefing and training is essential for safe operations in these areas. Snow blindness (white out),blowing snow during pick up, hover and sit down, skids/wheels getting stuck in snow, slippery conditions while on snow or melting of snow during long hours of operations and disorientation(White out) are some of the aspects which need to be taken into account for snow bound area
  • Ice formation at high altitudes is a serious hazard. Anti icing measures like serviceable and available ice detectors, heating elements, need for frequent movement of controls to prevent jamming of controls due ice formation, knowledge about freezing level and potential of ice formation are some of the areas requiring attention of the operators.
  • For helicopters,before take off at high altitudes, ensure that the main, tail rotor blades and other surface areas are free of ice formation.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions about adding anti –icing additives in the fuel and use proper additive as required.
  • Check and ensure the serviceability of wind screen wipers,pitot heaters. Do not forget to switch on pitot heaters whenever required and switching them off on landing.
  • Be aware that snow fall can change the appearance of the terrain and perspective during navigation and takeoff/landing.
  • Batteries need to be maintained properly and protected during night from extreme cold temperatures by wrapping in blankets etc particularly for helicopters.
  • Cracking of various seals can take place and must be checked periodically.
  • Regular ground runs should be given at periodic intervals.
  • Engineer and technicians should be told to ensure thoroughness during their maintenance and servicing activities. Tendency to take short cuts due to very cold temperatures should be highlighted and avoided.
  • Low light conditions during winter months may result in minor cracks or other small defects getting overlooked. Ensure adequate lighting for servicing and maintenance work.
  • Maintenance staff should be careful while climbing on the aircraft/ helicopter for maintenance work since surface may be slippery due to frost, icing etc.
  • Take special precautions during taxiing and maintain very good look out for obstructions, aircraft and vehicles.
  • Make sure that anti collision and nav lights are serviceable and switched on during flying.
  • Some time the slant visibility may be good but horizontal visibility may be bad. Be careful and aware.
  • Western disturbances may cause severe weather conditions during winters and hence be prepared to face them in safe manner.
  •  Never take chances with the poor weather conditions and don’t be overconfident. Overconfidence has taken the lives of many pilots.
  •  There may be occasions when frustration may set in because of the delays and postponement of departure timings/dates and long wait on ground due prolonged bad weather spells. Number of pilots have taken chances with weather under such conditions and have met with serious /fatal accidents. Please be aware of the grave danger under such conditions and take very considered decisions. Involvement of CEO’s, senior supervisors,op managers etc in close monitoring of operations can go a long way ensuring safety of operations.

Although efforts have been made to include as many hazards of winter flying as possible yet the list is not exhaustive. Operators may like to add other aspects which may be typical to their area of operations.

Operators should always endeavor to match the man with the machine, mission and weather conditions. Adequate instrument flying practice, simulator flying, currency, recency in area of operations, comprehensive briefing covering the entire spectrum of the various aspects of the operations and monitoring performance are key to the successful conduct of the operations. Respecting the weather and courage of conviction to say no if the safety of the flight is likely to be compromised must be impressed upon the pilots.


  • -



Pilgrimage Flying is a very lucrative business and the profitability of number of Operators largely depends on the contracts to operate in the location of pilgrimage centres. The flying during the season is very hectic, challenging and demands high standards of professionalism, maturity and safety consciousness. There are many grey areas related to the conduct of operations during pilgrimage flying. Hence, it is essential that the Operators, Pilots, Engineers, Technicians, Ground support personnel etc. are aware of the hazards related to the operations at the pilgrimage centres and address these aspects to ensure the safety and efficiency of operations.

Operations Management- at Base.

  1. All the operators need to ensure that the Pilots tasked to fly are competent, cleared and current in hill flying.
  2. The Pilots should have undergone necessary Air and Ground training and clearances as required by DGCA CAR/Circulars.
  3. The Operators should ensure that the Pilots and the support staff deputed for the operations at pilgrimage centres are aware about the provisions of DGCA :-
  •     Air Safety Circular 07/2013, Seasonal Helicopter Operations-Safety guidelines,            Dated 24 Jun 2013.
  •     OC NO. 06 OF 2017 dated 1 June 2017, ADVISORY OPERATIONS CIRCULAR,           Precautions to be observed by Operators / Pilots during Helicopter Operations to       Temporary / Regular use Helipads.

4. Operators should ensure that the SOP applicable to the respective pilgrimage   centres are reviewed,updated,approved by DGCA on as required basis and disseminated to the operating crew members for compliance.

5. The Accountable Executive/Manager,COO,Chief Pilot should conduct comprehensive briefing for the Pilots and joint briefing for Pilots,Engineers,Technicians and supporting Staff, highlighting the hazards associated with the operations, maintenance and ground support, strict compliance of DGCA Ops and Air Safety Circulars  and other rules, regulations. During the briefing special emphasis must be laid on the safety of the operations.

Operations Management-at Pilgrimage Helipad.

Base Managers/Senior Pilots need to conduct comprehensive briefing of the Pilots ,AME, Technicians, Ground Support Staff, covering the do’s and don’ts and the need for their full involvement, in ensuring proper coordination of the operations, briefing of passengers ,safe boarding and de boarding of passengers both at the embarkation and disembarkation helipads .

Pilots should plan a joint briefing session with pilots from other operators and get to know about the SOP’s being followed, altitude to climb while proceeding to the helipad and returning from the helipad, frequencies to be used for communication, blind or routine calls to report position and sequence of landing and take-off at the helipads.

All the pilots should plan, prepare well for the sortie keeping in mind the following:-

  • Current Weather Reports, Synoptic situation, trends and remain touch with the latest developments on the weather. Pilots should remain alert about the deterioration of weather and transmit to other pilots as well so that everyone is aware and cautious.
  • Surface temperature at the base, destination and calculate your density altitude, power required, reserve of power and the number of passengers that can be carried safely, depending on weather and power limitations.
  • Check the wind conditions at base, destination. Winds at Kedarnath are generally tail winds. Keep the adverse effect of tail winds while landing at Kedarnath if the tail winds cannot be avoided.
  • Sudden changes in weather (Cloud base and visibility), turbulence, updrafts/downdrafts and change in wind speed and direction are typical of weather in hilly terrain. Be aware of weather phenomenon and timely response.
  • The misting of the windshield and windows can take place since the helicopter flies from high temperature to low temperature or vice versa. Cockpit demisters should be serviceable and used as per SOP to eliminate the sudden risk of misting. Pilots using goggles also must remember that misting of their Goggles or specs can take place with attendant hazards.
  • Know the terrain, obstructions around the helipads, enroute and requirement of turning radius in the valleys. Some improvements have been undertaken at the Kedarnath Shrine area since last year and it may be possible that the pilots are not familiar with some of the new obstructions which might have come up since the last year, at Kedarnath. Hence, it is essential to know the location of the obstructions and keep a good look out for the same.
  • Keep a sharp look out for other helicopters, poles, wires, trolley cables and even possibly birds. Don’t be complacent that birds don’t fly at high altitude.
  • Take off, approach and landing at altitudes with high all up weight, in the hilly terrain, demand full alertness and vigilance since margin of safety is reduced considerably. Keep this important aspect in mind.

(h) Pilots should be aware of the phenomenon of Vortex ring, loss of tail rotor effectiveness and ground resonance. Vortex ring conditions are likely to occur during steep approaches with ROD more than 300 Ft/Mt, calm or tail winds and IAS around transition speed. Be aware and alert.

  • Correct altimeter setting in coordination with other helicopters/operators as per SOP must be ensured.
  • Risk posed by hill shadows particularly during morning, evening hours should be known to the pilots.
  • Single pilot flying under such challenging situation, for long hour’s duration is quite fatiguing and stressful. Under such conditions, the ability of pilots to make proper decision is likely to suffer and their chances of making errors are high. Be careful and take adequate rest, refreshments and do not fly if you are feeling stressed or fatigued.
  • Maintain good situational awareness at all times and never be complacent, however, ace pilot, you may consider yourself. Remember while doing same task repeatedly, pilots tend to relax and become overconfident. Guard against this.
  • Chances of pilots getting into spatial disorientation and loss of situational awareness are high in the hills, even in good visibility conditions, due to nature of the terrain and loss of horizon. Pilots should be familiar with these conditions and take timely action not to get into that situation.
  • Pilots should keep in mind the Golden Rule in Aviation- Aviate, Navigate and Communicate. First priority is to fly and control the helicopter in any situation.
  • In the hills, it is very difficult to find force landing fields. Pilots need to keep in mind wherever some clear areas are available. Also some of the areas may appear clear from altitude but when you descend to lower heights, the appearance may be different then what you expected. Be careful.
  • The adverse effects of rotor downwash of other helicopters on your helicopter and the downwash of other helicopters on your helicopter, which may lead to loss of height, vibrations and flapping of the blades/wind sailing, should be kept in mind.
  • Rotor down wash is likely to take place at Kedarnath helipad, particularly when a helicopter is already at the helipad and is delayed for take-off while there is another helicopter on the approach and coming into the helipad when other helicopter is initiating take off. This situation should be avoided. Do not attempt to fly low over helicopter whose rotors are turning.
  • The ground staff at both the departure and arrival helipads should be competent, properly briefed and fully involved in ensuring the safe boarding and de boarding of passengers. Approach procedures to the helicopter and departure procedure from the helicopter must be properly coordinated and monitored. Risk of passengers going towards tail rotor must be known and ground staff, passengers be briefed accordingly.
  • Pilots should be careful about the rotor disc which should be level or in such a position that it poses no risk to passengers or ground personnel. Do not allow anyone under the rotors particularly when the rotors are at low RPM during starting or switching off to avoid blade sailing in strong wind conditions.
  • Pilots and ground support personnel should be very careful in ensuring that no loose articles like Caps, Pagrees, Lungies, Gamchha, ladies Dupatta, loose clothing’s, plastic material, ropes wires etc. fly around, during Hover, take-off, landing.
  • Do not exceed the laid down limitations and stress the helicopter.
  • Monitor the behaviour of your helicopter very closely and any changes in engine sound or parameters should not be ignored.
  • There was a fatal accident at Katra due bird hit. Birds can be serious hazards at some locations. Pilots need to be aware and alert about the bird hazards.


  • It is essential that the pilots are aware of the position of other helicopters, give R/T calls,as per procedures with adopted in coordination of other Operators/Pilots.
  • In addition to the commercial helicopters authorised to operate from the designated helipads including from Harsil helipad, there may be helicopter traffic from Army, Air Force and Charter helicopters. Pilots should be aware of all the movements and be always very alert, vigilant and maintain a good listening watch.
  • Pilots should have full knowledge of the helicopter traffic from various agencies while entering the valley from Rishikesh for Kedarnath side and returning from Kedarnath to Rishikesh side, the altitude they are maintaining, and the side of the valley they are flying (As per SOP) and giving blind RT calls at designated locations, especially while negotiating blind corners of the valley.


  • The AME’s, Technician play a very vital role especially during such high intensity operations. They need to be very professional and vigilant during maintenance, turn around servicing, daily inspection, rectification of snags, refuelling etc. The adverse effect of number of starts and switch off, frequent take off, landings, high power operations, dusty environments, rapid decrease and increase of atmospheric temperature, pressure within short time duration and number of times during sorties, stress and fatigue on the engines and components should be kept in mind by the AME, Technicians.
  • It is moral duty of the AME, Technicians to be fully involved in ensuring the full airworthiness of the helicopter and they should not succumb to any company pressures which may lead to compromise on safety.
  • Fuel is life and special attention should be paid to the refuelling. Checking the quality of fuel, signs of any contamination and proper bonding during refuelling operations should be observed. Take no short cuts please.
  • In the pursuit of completing the task for the day which is a very hectic schedule, Pilots, AME’s, Technicians and other supporting staff are liable to take short cuts or rush through the activities related to their role. All the personnel should be aware of the risk.
  • Pilots and AME’s, Technician’s should have good professional and personal relations and understanding which is essential for safe conduct of operations.
  • Pilots should never fly with snags, however minor it may appear since what appears to be minor on ground, may become major in Air. Get the snag rectified to your satisfaction even if it involves delay and don’t get pressurised for completing number of sorties from anyone including self.

Human Factors.

  • In general, it is presumed that there will be tremendous pressures on the pilots to undertake maximum number of sorties, passengers and the commercial considerations are high on the mind of the operators. So there will be pressures on the pilots, AME’s to deliver, to meet the expectation of the operators. Some pilots also may be under self-imposed pressures due to monetary considerations since they are paid per hour of flying and number of landings. Let no pressure affect you and always place safety before any other considerations.
  • The peer pressure is another area where pilots tend to get in competition with other operators/pilots to complete number of sorties more than the others, ignoring weather conditions.
  • Pilots should resist these pressures which may compromise the safety and all the pilots operating in that area should be on the same page and keep safety uppermost in their mind. One up syndrome (Trying to complete more trips then others even in marginal weather conditions) is not in the interest of any pilot or Operator since it has potential of compromising safety.
  • The Operators will do well not to create any kind of pressures on the pilots directly or indirectly since it may have major implications on safety.


  •  Proper communication facilities, accommodation, meals, refreshments, tea, coffee, suitable transport etc. should be provided to the Company personnel commensurate with their status and entitlement.
  • The pilots, AME, Technicians should receive full support from the Finance, HR and Admin department of  the operator and their Salary, allowances, boarding, lodging and transportation etc. should be good and commensurate with the other operator’s standards.
  • Financial claims should be settled at the earliest.


  • Ops, Maintenance and Marketing Staff of the operators should provide all the possible assistance to the Pilots, AME’s and ground staff by ensuring timely operational, maintenance and administration support.
  • Company management should ensure that the pilots are not pressurised and decision making should be left to them since they are the best judge of the situation. It is a known fact that the Pilots and AME’s are responsible professionals and will spare no efforts to complete the task within the bounds of safety. Any pressure on them will be counterproductive and may jeopardise safety. The Operators are requested to keep this important aspect in mind and should aim to achieve healthy balance between task completion and safety, giving the safety due importance.
  • The CEO/Accountable Executives/COO, Chief of Flight Safety/ Chief of Maintenance should closely monitor the conduct of operations, Maintenance. Pilots, Engineers displaying casual and macho attitudes or any other hazardous attitudes like Anti Authority (Violating SOP’s, rules, regulations), invulnerability (that is accident happen only to others and not to them), impulsivity (taking decision in haste and on impulse) and state of Resignation( i.e. they feel that they are helpless and can’t make a difference), should be counselled and corrected.
  • There is a definite need for the regulator to provide proper air traffic control, communication and Met facilities at the helipads of operations.
  • The close monitoring by the Ops, Maintenance and Safety inspectors from DGCA without being overbearing, to ensure proper coordination, compliance with rules,regulations,SOP’s and best industry practices will go a long way in enhancing safety of the operations at pilgrimage centres.

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Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)

When an airworthy aircraft or helicopter under the command of a qualified pilot, is inadvertently or without prior knowledge is flown into terrain, water or obstructions, is called CFIT. Most of the CFIT accidents are fatal and almost always a pilot error.

 CFIT mostly occurs when visual cues are lost due to flying during night or into clouds, fog or poor visibility conditions. Under such conditions, Pilots may get spatially disorientated, loose Situational Awareness and meets with CFIT accidents. In addition visual illusions, also add to the CFIT accident statistics.
CFIT is more likely to occur over water, hilly areas, long stretches of forested or desert terrain and during Night, due to lack of prominent visual cues.

Most of the CFIT accidents occur during final approach and landing or during take-off and initial climb. However, Number of Aircraft/Helicopter CFIT accidents have occurred during cruise or manoeuvring flight.

Causes of CFIT

Lack of:-

  • Proper Flight Planning, Preparations.
  • Adequate weather briefing, knowledge and intelligent monitoring of weather.
  • Proper analysis of terrain with particular emphasis on Minimum Enroute Altitude, Minimum Safe or Sector Altitude, Minimum off route altitude (MORA),Grid MORA, Minimum Descent Altitude, obstructions around runways, helipads, towers, pylons, power, Cable Car/ trolley cables particularly in the mountains.
  • Knowledge about SOP’s, Check List, Procedures, Approach, Enroute, Let down Charts , Weather Radar, GPS, Flight Management System, Automatic Flight Control System, Automation, Electronic Flight Instrumentation System, ILS, VOR,EGPWS,DME.
  • Knowledge about Spatial Disorientation, Visual Illusions.
  • Situational Awareness- Horizontal, Vertical and overall.
  • Correct Altimeter Settings and Cross Check between PF and PM.
  • Adequate CRM and Proper Communication.
  • Compliance with SOP’s, Rules, Regulations.
  • Lack of proper configuration and verification of the flight management computer for the profile approach.
  • Inadequate Vertical Mode Selections of the Aircraft Flight Control System (AFCS).
  • Inadequate or delayed response to the Warning Alerts of EGPWS/Terrain Awareness and Warning System.
  • Inadequate or delayed Missed Approach and Go around Flight Path.
  • Lateral and/or vertical deviation from intended flight path.
  • Loss of terrain separation.
  • Low Energy State during Approach / Unstable Approach.
  • Inadequate Response to Wind Sheer Warning.
  • Continued approach, when below DA (H) or MDA (H), after loss of visual references.
  • Unstable approach and Failure to Go Around in time.
  • Late or inadequate response to MSAW warning.
  • Lack of effective flight path control during go-around.
  • Failure to follow published missed-approach procedure.
  • Inadequate fuel management.
  • Fatigue and Stress.
  • Interruptions / Distractions.
  • Overconfidence, Complacency, Macho Attitude.
  • VIP, Commercial, Peer and Self Imposed Pressures.
  • Lack of effective and result oriented Simulator Training, Flight and Ground Training, CRM, All Weather Operations.
  • Inadequate supervision, lack of monitoring by the Senior Management and Accountable Managers.
  • Hazardous Attitudes like Ante Authority, Invulnerability, Impulsiveness, Macho and Resignation.
  • Lack of currency in hands on flying, instrument flying.
  • Lack of communication, Proper Pre Flight Briefing, Pre Descent, Approach Briefing and Debriefing.
  • Lack of teamwork and synergy.
  • Distraction/ loss of Attention.
  • Poorly developed and outdated Procedures, SOP’s.
  • Poor Decision Making, Delayed Decision, Fixation, Distraction.
  • Not knowing or not following the Golden Rule in Aviation which is Aviate-Navigate-Communicate.
  • Human performance limitations and deficiencies.
  • Cockpit Gradient/Authority Gradient/Power Distance which takes away the ability of the Co Pilot or First Officer to Speak up or correct the Captain when he is doing something wrong. Lack of assertiveness by the Co Pilot or First Officer.
  • Single Pilot aircraft or Helicopters are more susceptible to CFIT.
  • Duck under Syndrome or Scud Running.
  • Flying visually in IMC conditions or mixing instrument flying and visual flying.
  • Exceeding the laid down limitations.
  • Misunderstanding or misinterpretation of ATC instructions or blindly following ATC instructions.
  • Automated “MINIMUM” alert not activated. 
  • Inadequate response to the EGPWS alert.
  • EGPWS software was not updated.
  • Stabilized criteria is not respected.
  • Failed to monitor the aircraft’s altitude during the approach.
  • The relevant weather was not provided to the flight crew.
  • Delayed decision to execute missed approach when unstable approach or unable to see visual reference below MDA(H).
  • For helicopter pilots, reluctance to land at suitable place if unable to continue flight due weather.
  • Prevention of CFIT Accidents.
  • Planning, preparation for the flight needs to be thorough.
  • Obtain proper Met Briefing, forecast and interpret the weather to see how it will impact on your Flight.
  • Be knowledgeable about the hazards of flying during pre-monsoon (Norwesters or Kal Baisakhi), Monsoons, Foggy   Winter Months, Wind Shear, Western Disturbances, Cyclones, Tsunami etc.
  • Improve your knowledge about the weather and how to interpret the weather from the various websites like IMD, Acu Weather, Sky Met and Meteo Earth Etc.
  • Make good use of the information available from METARS, ATIS, about the weather, runway conditions and act accordingly in time. Respect the Weather and do not press on in adverse weather.
  • ATC, Met and Company dispatch, must ensure that updated weather information are provided to the Pilots.
  • Thorough knowledge of Terrain, highest obstructions, Minimum Enroute altitude, Minimum Sector or Safe Altitude, Minimum Off route Altitude, obstructions in the approach path to the Runway or the Helipad and obstructions around the Airport, Helipads. Hilly reason may have Chair Car trolley cables or power cables, communication cables, transmission towers. Knowledge of these and good look out while flying in the hills particularly for helicopter pilots who fly along the valleys at low levels.
  • Captain, Co Pilot or First Officer should be having good knowledge about the Aircraft, Helicopter, its systems, Avionics, Nav Aids, approach and let down charts, Jepson charts, Weather Radar, Flight Management System, Automatic Flight Control System, SOP’s, Rules, Regulations, Spatial disorientation, Visual Illusions, Situational awareness, recovery from unusual attitudes, recovery from wind shear, stable approach, missed approach procedure, Take off and Go Around Mode switch, SIDS and STAR’s, ILS, Non Precision CDFA approaches.
  • Carry our proper risk assessment of the flight in coordination with the other crew, taking all the factors into consideration and decide on minimums for the flight which should be respected.
  • Undertake comprehensive pre-flight, pre decent and Approach briefing of the crew covering the aspects about weather, terrain, obstructions, type of approach, runway condition, winds and division of duties and responsibilities between Captain and Co Pilot or First Officer.
  • Follow the SOP meticulously. If you feel that SOP is not properly drafted and may compromise safety, it should be reviewed, updated and approved.
  • Always keep in mind the Golden Rule in Aviation-Aviate-Navigate-Communicate and make sure that at least one Pilot is flying all the time.
  • Beware of overconfidence, complacency, distraction, Fixation, lack of attention which may lead to loss of situational awareness.
  • Be Situationally Aware particularly Horizontal and Vertical situational awareness at all times.
  • Know your capabilities and limitations.
  • Be very careful in entering data into computers, FMS, AFCS, GPS etc  and selection of correct frequencies must be ensured and cross checked.
  • Correct Altimeter setting must be entered and ensure cross check and call outs between Captain and Co Pilot and with radio Altimeter. Knowledge of the altitudes for changing from QNH to QNE and vice versa is essential.
  • Remain current with hands on flying, instrument flying and be knowledgeable to recover from unusual attitudes, wind shear.
  • Take timely decision to execute missed approach and diversion. No questions will be asked by DGCA, ATC or Operator if pilots execute missed approach or divert due unstable approach or weather conditions (DGCA CAR on ALL Weather Operations).
  • Helicopter pilots should not hesitate to land at a suitable place if unable to continue the flight due weather (DGCA, ASC 09/2013).
  • Do not descend in IMC conditions or under cast conditions unless sure of the terrain or following established procedures under radar surveillance.
  • Do not carry out spiral descent or descend through hole since it may lead to special disorientation. Descend in a race course pattern if required.
  • Do not succumb to commercial, on time performance, VIP, passenger, peer or self-imposed pressures to undertake flight in the face of adverse weather conditions. Always take a professional well considered decision.
  • Get Homitis, get thereitis and mind set should be kept under check and no chances should be taken with the safety of the aircraft, crew and passengers.
  • Do not follow ATC instructions blindly and be situationally aware. If the ATC gives you a radial to fly which is taking you into weather, tell ATC unable and ask for another radial. If ATC gives you altitude to climb or decent which may put you in conflict with other traffic or with your minimum safe altitude, advise the ATC accordingly. Listen out the ATC instructions carefully and don’t hesitate to verify if in doubt.
  • Keep open atmosphere in the cockpit where crew members are free to give inputs, particularly related to safety of the aircraft/helicopter without any hesitation, fear, apprehension, snubbing or reprisals.
  • The Co Pilot/First Officer should be given freedom to be assertive and encouraged by Captain to correct or caution the Captain and even take over control if the Captain continues the approach in spite of the approach being unstable or without sighting the runway or any of the runway clues at MDA (H).
  • Do not undertake the Flight if you are stressed, fatigued or unwell. Be very careful while taking flight during Window of Circadian Low and be aware of Human Performance Limitations.
  • No decision should be taken if it is influenced by hazardous attitudes like Ante Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability, Macho or Resignation.
  • Operators and Pilots also must ensure to conduct a proper pre-flight planning session and familiarize themselves with the terrain that may surround them during their flight, as terrain familiarization is critical to safe visual operations, in particular at night
  • CDFA techniques contribute to a stabilized approach. Hence, the operators should develop procedures and train pilots to fly a stabilized CDFA.
  • Effective crew coordination and crew performance, and in general CRM principles and behaviours can reduce pilots’ workload and decrease the probability of human errors.
  • Enhancing pilot performance and complacency, both in normal and abnormal circumstances, will empower pilots to intervene, with greater confidence and competence, to prevent any environmental threats and hazards that could lead to high-risk outcomes.  Operators must ensure that their training programs robustly address potential deficiencies, environmental, technical/non-technical factors such as human factors, air carrier’s SOPs.
  • Encourage operators to review their procedures for responding to alerts on final approach to ensure that these procedures are sufficient to enable pilots to avoid impact with terrain or obstacles in such situations.
  • Operators should always ensure that their EGPWS software is update to date.
  • Pilots’ knowledge of aircraft systems, aircraft performance and normal/abnormal procedures is vital to ensure that they do not find themselves in unexpected situations from which they cannot immediately recover.
  • Pilots must also be keenly aware of the risks of CFIT, the circumstances in which those risks are greatest and the best strategies for maintaining an accurate picture of their horizontal and vertical situation.
  • Pilots’ competence in recognizing and responding to potential CFIT must be realistically trained and tested in recurrent simulator training sessions, using examples from operational experience.
  • Analysis of the causes of CFIT accidents should be included in the training courses to help pilots to understand their own limitations and recognize when an undesirable situation is developing.
  • Learn an escape manoeuvre and techniques designed to enhance the possibility of survival.
  • Improved monitoring and cross-checking are methods that can prevent many of the accidents
  • Good CRM behaviour and Pilot Monitoring can help to mitigate CFIT accidents.
  • Operational procedures can also provide CFIT risk mitigations by avoiding non-precision approaches especially in high risk destinations or adopting risk reducing strategies such as CDFA or PBN approaches.

Pilot in command should be aware of the risks involved when transitioning from visual to instrument or from instrument to visual procedures on take-off or landing.

Helicopter pilots are more likely to get into CFIT conditions since they fly at low levels in hostile terrain. In addition to adverse weather conditions, environmental factors such as time of day, minimal light, shadows, darkness, sun glare, cockpit blind spots, fatigue, or other such factors may result in the pilot losing situational awareness and hitting an obstacle or impacting the ground.

Even if a Pilot is aware of the obstructions and environmental factors, He/She may not be able to see the danger in time or may see the danger but fail to react in time to avoid collision.

Flying in the hills along the valleys can result in a CFIT accident if a power line or cable is strung between the hills. Flying up a box canyon and not being able to fly up and out of it before impacting terrain. Flying over rising terrain that exceeds an aircraft’s/helicopters ability or performance to climb away from the terrain.

Pilots should be aware about the adverse effects of high density altitude which may lead to low reserve of power with consequent large radius of turn, at high altitudes. Under such conditions, manoeuvring the helicopter in narrow valleys may lead to collision with terrain.

Helicopter pilots, particularly, must be fully prepared, knowledgeable about the weather, environmental factors, terrain, obstructions, and adverse effects of high density altitude on performance, performance limitation of the helicopter, disorientation, snow blindness, icing and strong vertical and horizontal wind shear etc. Remember mountain flying in adverse weather conditions is a deadly situation.

Never take chances with weather, particularly, in the hills, high seas and night.

 Analysis of number of accidents/serious incidents have highlighted following issues related to safety and for prevention of CFIT accidents.

Situational Awareness has been found deficient in number of accidents analysed. It is recommended that operators increase training on maintaining situational awareness at all times, especially when close to the ground, and provide pilots with appropriate language and procedures to communicate, and respond to, positional concerns without delay.

Procedural non-compliance is a common factor in CFIT accidents. It is recommended that operators promote and enforce a culture of universal compliance with policies and procedures, unless unusual circumstances directly affecting safety dictates otherwise. Such situations also need to be trained.

Emergency checklists are essential tools that flight crews use to respond to serious and time-critical situations. The lists must be well designed and clear; and adherence to these lists must be trained.

SOPs for communication between pilots on approach frequently give no special authority for the pilot not flying to command a go-around, and this is of particular concern when the pilot not flying, is the more junior crew member. It is recommended that operators devise and implement Policies to allow the “Emergency authority” for pilots not in command to take control in emergency situation, should be encouraged and enforced.

Most terrain awareness systems currently available are incompatible with VFR operations in mountainous terrain.

Nuisance’ warnings have the potential to exacerbate CFIT risk. The crew members should be advised not to isolate audio warnings.  It is recommended that regulatory authorities and operators interact with system manufacturers to review the warning logic to ensure that the frequency of nuisance warnings is minimized, without unduly compromising the systems terrain awareness and warning capabilities.

‘Nuisance’ warnings can also be inherent in the design of approach procedures, especially those using satellite based guidance to provide instrument approaches in challenging terrain.

Safety Management System (SMS), enhanced CRM, strict adherence to SOPs and result oriented Ground training need continued emphasis.

Unclear approach templates may cause pilots to deviate from them or misinterpret them hence taking them close to unsafe areas especially if the airport is near mountainous regions. This is exacerbated especially if pilots are unfamiliar and are operating into the airport in a night time environment. Operators and pilots must ensure that they carry the most up-to-date flight instrument charts so that they fly the correct instrument charts and do not fly into terrain mistakenly.

An unstable approach also has been found to be a factor contributing to CFIT accidents. Unstable approaches increase the possibility of diverting a flight crew’s attention away from the approach procedure to regain better control of the airplane. Operators must require their pilots to fly a stabilized approach and to always make timely decision to go-around from an unstable approach.

It is evident that most of the CFIT accidents result from a pilot’s breakdown in situational awareness (SA) instead of aircraft malfunction or a fire. SA refers to the accurate perception by flight crew of the factors and conditions currently affecting the safe operation of the aircraft, and their vertical and/or horizontal position awareness in relation to the ground, water, or obstacles. The data shows that 49 percent of CFIT accidents had vertical, lateral or speed deviations as a contributing factor to CFIT accidents.

Situational awareness can be enhanced through proper flight planning, preparation, knowledge about aircraft, systems, on board equipment, procedures, alertness and vigilance particularly during critical phases of the flight and good CRM. More reliable warnings of possible terrain conflicts through EGPWS that is equipped with accurate navigation systems like global positioning system (GPS) for both navigation and terrain surveillance can improve situational awareness.

Flight crew non-compliance with established procedures was a contributing factor in 23 percent of CFIT accidents. Poor CRM was also a frequent contributing factor.

Pilot Performance remains a major factor in CFIT accidents; despite the efforts to mitigate risk, handling and/or inappropriate actions by flight crew continue to be weak area..

Training, whether it is academic or simulator training, should allow pilots to experience realistic situations that require timely decisions and correct responses. Simulator training should also be given to provide pilots the opportunity to practice CFIT prevention strategies, including the escape manoeuvring. Training should be given to pilots during initial, transition and recurrent training.

Data collection and analysis can provide information of threats, hazards and identify potential weaknesses of an operator.

Collection and sharing of flight data in order to identify hazards ahead of time and mitigate those risks that can lead to an accident is another important element for continued improvement in CFIT accidents.

The best potential source of operational data is the operators’ own Flight Data Monitoring (FDM), Flight Data Analysis (FDA), or Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) programs.

The aim should be to improve safety through an analysis of information downloaded from an aircraft’s on-board computer at the end of every flight. This information can be used to identify trends and discover issues that might develop into a serious safety problem.

The routine download and analysis of recorded flight data has been used by operators for many years as a tool to identify potential hazards in flight operations, evaluate the operational environment, validate operating criteria, set and measure safety performance targets, monitor SOP compliance and measure training effectiveness.

In non-routine circumstances, when an incident occurs the data can be used to debrief the pilots involved and inform management. In a de-identified format the incident data can also be used to reinforce training programs, raising awareness amongst the pilot group as a whole.

Revise the minimum operational performance standards to improve the effectiveness of terrain awareness and warning systems when an airplane is configured for landing and near the airport, including when the airplane is descending at a high rate and there is rising terrain near the airport. 

All operators of airplanes equipped with the automated “minimums” alert should brief crew members to activate it.

For those airplanes not equipped with an automated “minimums” alert, it is advised that all operators of airplanes equipped with terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) to activate the TAWS 500-ft voice callout or similar alert. 

Human, Procedural, Technological. The available human mitigations involve improving and maintaining pilots’ knowledge, their awareness and their competence, and each of these can be achieved by a comprehensive training program embracing classroom, simulator and flight training.

With realistic training, flight crew will be well prepared to:

  • Know the hazards of flying close to terrain.
  • Recognize the symptoms of spatial disorientation.
  • Recognize the factors that may lead to CFIT accidents.
  • Know the mitigation strategies that will ensure a safe flight.

The Safety management systems (SMS) must incorporate management procedures to constantly review and assess the CFIT risk exposure to the operation in order to ensure that the risk is as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and tolerable.

Technologies have also been developed to mitigate the risk of a CFIT accident. There are a variety of technologies available but the most considerable one is TAWS/EGPWS; this technology can be used with a terrain map database via GPS to provide the pilots with a more reliable source of data.

Unfortunately, many pilots falsely believe that there is sufficient time to react once an EGPWS alert is sounded. In order to be effective, it is essential that the aircraft system hardware and firmware are correctly maintained and that the software database is properly updated.

Vertical situation displays in the cockpit are becoming more common and these provide pilots with an easy to assimilate picture of the terrain profile ahead of the aircraft, together with its projected vertical flight path.

Operators must ensure that the latest modifications are incorporated in their TAWS/EGPWS computer and with GPS providing aircraft position data directly to the computer. These provide earlier warning times and minimize unwanted alerts and warnings.

Furthermore, appropriate TAWS/EGPWS response procedures by the operators should be established for the flight crew in accordance to the aircraft type performance capability. These procedures should include and encourage pilots that “warnings” should be followed without hesitation as soon as a triggered.

DGCA should promote development and use of a low cost terrain clearance and/or a look ahead devices particularly for helicopters who operate at low levels close to the terrain, obstructions.

Supervision and monitoring of flying operations by Accountable Managers, Chief Operations Officers, Chief Pilots  of aircraft and helicopters particularly  belonging to NSOP, State Govt and Private operator’s needs to be improved.

Effective implementation of SMS which improve Company Safety culture, must be ensured.

The senior management, Accountable Managers, Chief Operating Officers and Chief Pilots must proactively identify hazards related to operations during adverse weather conditions (Pre Monsoon, Summer Season, Monsoon Season, Winter Season) and operations to and from airports, helipads which are known to be difficult and challenging. Standard procedures should be introduced to brief the pilots about the hazards and precautions they need to take to operate safely. Operations Staff and Chief of Flight Safety should be fully involved and remain extra alert and vigilant during marginal weather conditions to provide necessary and accurate weather related information, support and guidance to pilots.

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