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PA46 Malibu N264DB missing in the English Channel

Discussion of flying instrument approaches as “practice”, solo, in VMC, on a PPL, etc, is here.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Night VFR into IMC… sjeezes…

EBZW EBST

Interesting comments on page 15. Whoever wrote that knew the stuff. Especially the FAA Common Purpose rule. Also applicable to Wingly and N-reg.

Night VFR into IMC… sjeezes…

Night VFR on a proper night is as good as IMC…

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Whoever wrote that knew the stuff.

Other than referring to an FAA pilot certificate as a licence, which it isn’t, and an A&P IA Mechanic as the “Holder of an FAA Inspector Authorization”. Somehow it’s innate to these people to glorify titles.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 25 Feb 15:50

So, yet again, Occams’s razor worked – the most simple explanation (loss of control while trying to avoid / failing to avoid IMC at night) turns out to be the right one.

Quite interesting to see that the weather in the area was not that bad, but at night…

Biggin Hill

Cobalt wrote:

So, yet again, Occams’s razor worked – the most simple explanation (loss of control while trying to avoid / failing to avoid IMC at night) turns out to be the right one.

Quite interesting to see that the weather in the area was not that bad, but at night…

Yes, night, a little cloud/mist, hand flying, manouvering. JFK Jr.

EGTK Oxford

Well, we don’t know. My view too was that the wx was not that bad.

It could be that he was getting some ice and the boots were INOP. Or he knew the boots were INOP and wanted to avoid IMC below 0C (I would deffo want to do that). After all, night over the open sea is going to be pitch black at that time, so why maintain “official VFR”? VFR in IMC is a SOP in the UK The flight was already way into the illegal territory on the grounds of carrying a paying passenger / doing a dodgy charter. And any ex paradropping pilot with years of experience will be, shall we say, intimately familiar with some “interesting” practices…

There are enough INOP boots flying out there… I’ve seen some over the years. N2195B was reported (by someone who ought to know, telling me personally) to have INOP boots on his final flight, and he was refused the Annual at one firm so he took it elsewhere where they signed it off.

INOP autopilot perhaps too? Plenty of those out there, too.

There must have been a very pressing reason to descend, and it could not have been to maintain legal VMC, because I think it would have been totally dark anyway. Or maybe not? Can anyone find out the light at the time?

Why JFK Jr was not using the autopilot is a mystery.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There’s more than a few crashes which ask the question “Why [insert pilot name] was not using the autopilot is a mystery”. Quite a few of them could have avoided crashing had they used the autopilot.

The weather wasn’t that bad but it was essentially hard IMC. You have the following factors:

  • dark night (overcast)
  • over the sea

to turn even severe clear into effectively hard IMC. I think often there’s an obsession about the very slim possibility of having to ditch as the main danger of crossing the sea, whereas in reality I think it’s more likely that unexpected IMC poses a far bigger danger (even during a sunny day with fair weather). I’ve crossed the Irish Sea once or twice when the reported weather was CAVOK and daylight, yet once you’re 8 or 9 miles off the coast you may as well be in the middle of a cloud because a pale whitish blue sky merges with a pale whitish blue sea and you can’t discern anything, let alone a horizon. Even more insidious is at night, lights from things like oil platforms, ships, etc. might line up and trick you into seeing a false horizon. The only time I’ve ever experienced the feeling of severe spatial disorientation was during my IR training in the US when I was an ILS into Galveston, when a couple of lights from the freeway hoved into the bit of the windscreen the hood didn’t quite block and suddenly made the lizard part of my brain convinced I was in a 70 degree bank with 30 degrees nose up (even though I was wings level and flying a perfectly stable ILS approach). It took every ounce of willpower to continue to scan the instruments and finish the procedure. Even a momentary stop in instrument scan had me subconsciously trying to correct a flight attitude that wasn’t there.

Even IFR capable pilots have come to grief during VFR into IMC incidents. When you’re IFR on a flight plan, and all legal, you’re prepared for what comes next, and you’re already ready for going into IMC. You’re not trying to dodge around clouds or dodge airspace, you’ve got a heading, altitude and plan and an instrument scan all ready. If you’re VFR and trying (and failing) to remain VFR, straining to look outside to hunt for the gaps in whatever’s causing IMC – especially when it’s dark – even if you’re instrument rated and current can mean by the time you think “that’s funny” and look down at the panel, you’re already in an unusual attitude. Which in a slippery aircraft with little sky between you and the water can leave little time to figure out how to recover without ripping the plane apart.

Last Edited by alioth at 25 Feb 17:37
Andreas IOM

Weren’t there reports on the autopilot of that aircraft to occasionally go on strike?
Loss of autopilot and spatial disorientation could be a plausible cause.
With reported weather, I doubt he was picking up ice all down there.

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