Bellanca Decathlon 8KCAB

 

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Aerobatics Ė G-LOC Report

 

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FLIGHT SAFETY

 

We take a calculated risk each time we fly. The risk factor raises a notch if that flight includes aerobatics and itís important to understand some of the risk factors involved and what best to do about them. Some information in this section will have general application but it is targeted at the 8KCAB and so there will be many Decathlon related information gathered here.

 

Airworthiness Directives

If you are an owner, potential owner or operator of a Decathlon you will want to ensure that all applicable ADís have been complied with. The FAA provides copies of all ADís online and to make it easy Iíve collected the links in one page. Decathlon Related Airworthiness Directives. Iíve also annotated the links to make specific ADís easier to find. The official document titles often do not tell you what the AD is about and is often only a list of the affected aircraft models.

 

Wood Wing Spar AD

Of particular interest to owners of all Bellanca airplanes with wood spars is the AD 2000-25-02 which relates to the recurring inspection required of the spar and may be of significant economic impact if an AE/AI does your annuals. The Bellanca Champion Club website has a good discussion about this AD and includes some photos of actual spar cracks. The spar cracks are hard to detect and these photos give you a good idea of what to look for.

 

Service Bulletins

American Champion Aircraft currently own the rights to the Citabria and Decathlon series of airplanes. They publish service bulletins online, so itís worth checking their web page regularly. Itís a good idea to print out those service bulletins and add them to the aircraft flight manual.

 

8KCAB Accident Reports

The NSTB generates preliminary and final reports for each accident investigated. The final reports typically have a section presenting the facts and a second section presenting the conclusions of the NSTB regarding the cause of the accident. The final reports from their database have been collected here for our convenience. The reports are annotated and organized in a different manner than the NSTB records and pertain only to 8KCAB aircraft, in an attempt to distill useful lessons.

 

8KCAB Accident Analysis

This analysis is on going and will be added to as the data is analyzed. There were over two hundred accidents in the database. I stopped including reports after the late 80ís because the reports contained little useful information after the early 90ís, this gave us a total of 83 reports for analysis.

 

  1. LOW LEVEL FLIGHT Ė There were sixteen accidents that were attributable to low level aerobatic flight and a further 3 accidents that involved low level flight without aerobatics. Several of these accidents occurred when pilots initiated maneuvers below a hundred feet.These are particularly important because they are extremely likely to be fatal.This particular type of accident is avoidable. Only the most skilled pilots can maintain altitude in a Decathlon during some aerobatic maneuvers and it is impossible to maintain altitude during many maneuvers. With this in mind, it is illogical then to initiate a maneuver at low level in a Decathlon, particularly the 150HP version. To top it off, it is illegal.
  2. AEROBATICS Ė There were nine accidents that occurred during aerobatic flights. Four of these were caused by jammed controls, airframe failures and mechanical failures. The occupants often survived because there was sufficient altitude to affect an emergency landing or to bail out. One was due to loose baggage and the remaining were due to loss of control and possibly G-LOC.

The accidents that were caused by structural failures or mechanical failures often led to the issuance of an AD by the FAA. New comers to the Decathlon may not be familiar with these and it worth them reviewing the ADís so that they can pay careful attention to these components during their preflight.

  1. LANDING and TAKE-OFF Ė There were twenty landing accidents and fourteen take-off accidents. The majority of the landing and some of the take-off accidents appear to have been caused by loss of directional control. Stalls also feature in many of these accidents. These accidents are generally less fatal because the plane is traveling relatively slowly when control is lost. Sometimes poor maintenance, bad brakes and bald tires that blow contribute to ground loop accidents. However, the better our proficiency, currency and willingness to competently exercise the go-around option the less likely we will fall prey to these types of accidents.
  2. The remaining accidents are almost insignificant in occurrence by comparison to the previous three categories. These cruise type accidents are a mix of mid-air collisions, fuel depletion and mechanical failures that you would generally expect to occur for a multiplicity of reasons.

 

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