Saturday 18 May 2013 13:50 UTC
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I was flying out of an airfield not too long ago for a PPL lesson and my instructor told me whats happening, we went through the weather which was quite touch and go and he sent me out to check out the plane and taxi it to the pumps and fuel it up, as I have done many times before. It was standard practice at our club for students well into their PPL to do so.
So under the pressure of getting airbourne ASAP, I checked the plane - all fine. Got in, went through everything following the checklist. I never did like the GA checklists, so much information I would normally find I would accidentally skip a few lines without realising, normally it was something minor like the transponder. The transponders are horribly placed in our aircraft, very hard to see and not much easier to reach. This time it was different.
So I was ready to start her up and get her fed, had a good look about and there was one fellow student checking out the plane next to me. Gave it a good ol' clear prop and she was up and running seconds later. Went through all the checks, as I was nearing the end of my checks the guy checking out the plane next to me came running over his arms. Quite puzzled, I was reluctant to shut the engine down as I was always taught the best way to put out an engine fire on start is to keep it running for a couple of minutes. And then I saw my mistake, the tie downs were still on. How on earth did I miss those big ropes which I actually walked into on my walk around? I fly a high wing aircraft and I actually saw the tie downs out of the corner of my eye when I shouted clear prop, but it didn't register.
Needless to say I think my face was redder than the bright red livery on the aircraft. How did I miss such a simple thing? I shut down the engine, thanked the man and slowly crawled out the plane feeling 1mm tall and looking around to see who else noticed. I stored the tie downs and sat in the aircraft in shame.
I'm sure people have made bigger mistakes, but the worse thing about it all is that my tie downs aren't attached to the ground or a concrete block but it's attached to another rope that runs along the ground, and there were about another 6 aircraft all attached to this same rope. God knows what the damage would have been if that man wasn't paying attention or I completed my checks 10 seconds earlier. I remember reading in my PPL text books about checking the tie downs, the author said that believe it or not people leave them on! I didn't take much notice as I could never imagine me doing that.
I suppose that's what happens under the rush of trying to get up for your lesson. I never missed anything on the checklist again, but I did it on my skills test. Forgot the transponder as it was hidden down by the passenger seat. I can see why they keep them small on the big boys! I still don't like the checklist for that reason, thankfully I fly a simple type and have memorised everything now. As they say, there's more than 1 reason why things go wrong. Check lists are good, but the GA checklists are more like to-do lists rather than checklists you'd find in a commercial aircraft. I actually have an OCD now, I have to touch the tie downs in the aircraft before starting.
Don't rush to get up, even if your instructor is applying a bit of pressure to do so. Lesson learnt.
As a club renter, when I first go over to the aircraft I try to get the major items out of the way initially, FUEL SITUATION!!!!, tie downs, pitot cover, control locks, chocks.
I might then go and get everything else ready, book out, and then go through the walk round checks. Only fouled up once so far. In the aircraft, engine running, instructor walks over "Were you intending to remove the chocks?"
My only excuse was the aircraft had only just returned from a sortie, and I would have thought that the previous pilot would have known the a/c was due out again (otherwise he would have tied it down and put the covers on wouldn't he?), so on level parking there was no need to chock, but he had done. Bugrit.
Suiting the action to the words
I was sitting in the briefing room at a well known FBO last year, idly gazing out over the airfield, wondering why I had committed so much time and cash to obtaining an instrument rating when I saw my instructor fire up a school Arrow 50 yds away with one tiedown still attached.
I nipped into the office where a quick blast on the icom (by another instructor I hasten to add) sorted the problem...........
Primum non nocere..
To try and avoid missing items on the checklist, the ones I use (and probably others) have the items numbered. If you read the numbers out as you go, it is harder to miss something as you will skip a number (or two) and the brain seems to pick that up.
Imagine what you might try if you thought you could not fail...
That's a pretty good tip, I might number them like that and add a few things like mobile phone off. So many times I'm flying and all of a sudden I start vibrating.
Last year when I rented a PA28 I had a similar situation to the chocks problem as detailed above.
Running thru the checklist, about to start to taxi to the hold, and then engine stopped. I looked at the instructor, he looked at me, and the it dawned on both of us, the last renter had turned the fuel selector to OFF.
I'm glad it didn't happen 5minutes later during or just after the take off run, and I'd like to think one of us would have caught the error on the pre take off or run up checks, but we both missed it in the initial checklist.
You see what you want to see/expect to see, especially if you are in a stress situation.
The numbering of checklist items idea is good, I'll try to use that one myself.
Our club check list has checking the fuel selector position at least three times.
Somebody knew what they were doing. On one flight I caught the selector being in the wrong place on the third of these checks, having somehow missed it on the other two.
Yeah not sure how this can be missed..
Once on the walk around
Then a change of tanks before taxi
Then a change of tanks at runup
Then a check on the before take off check list
Then a mental check at the holding point.
If its being missed this many times then a habit of assuming its ok is there... Not good!
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