Australian Flying

Approaching the Stall

Perhaps the most telling line in the final investigation report into the crash of Air France 447 over the Atlantic in 2009 is this one:

The angle of attack, when it was valid, always remained above 35 degrees.

The aircraft involved was an A330 carrying 228 people. All on board died after a crew that had a cumulative 20,000 flying hours between them failed to recognise and recover from the stall before impact with the water. Two years later, Airbus magazine Safety First produced a detailed article on the very basics of aircraft stalling, almost as if they thought their pilots needed to go back there.

Maybe we all do. According to CASA, stalling leading to a spin still accounts for 25% of all fatal GA accidents around the world. It’s basic stuff taught in the first few hours of flight training, so why are will still getting it so wrong?

Here’s one theory: qualified pilots never do stalls unless their instructor demands it as part of a flight review. That means maybe two stalls every two years. And if the cloud base that day refuses to admit entry to sky above 3500 feet … well, we can try again in two years’ time. And that, we believe, is enough to recognise the onset of a stall and apply the correct recovery technique when we’re taken by surprise?

The paragraph above was an alarming resemblance of my own condition, prompting me to suck in some big breaths and arrange to do

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