New Study of Upset Recovery Training

The FAA recently sponsored a study of the effectiveness of simulator-based upset-recovery training. The study was conducted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Environmental Tectonics Corporation and published in September 2009.

An Experiment to Evaluate Transfer of Upset-Recovery Training Conducted Using Two Different Flight Simulation Devices (PDF)

Air transport training programs provide simulator-based upset-recovery instruction for company pilots. However, no prior research demonstrates that such training transfers to an airplane in flight. We report on an FAA-funded research experiment to evaluate upset-recovery training transfer. Two groups of participants were given simulator-based training in upset-recovery, one in a high-end centrifuge-based device, the other using Microsoft Flight Simulator running on desktop computers. A third control group received no upset-recovery training at all. All three groups were then subjected to serious in-flight upsets in an aerobatic airplane. Pilots from both trained groups significantly outperformed control group pilots in upset-recovery maneuvering. However, performance differences between pilots from the two trained groups were less distinct. Moreover, pilot performance in both trained groups fell well short of the performance exhibited by pilots experienced in all attitude flight. Although we conducted flight testing in a general aviation airplane, our research has important implications for heavy aircraft upset-recovery trainers.

Extended quote:

The altitude disparities reflected in Table 14 seem to call in question the implicit assumption that airline simulator-based upset-recovery training programs impart flying skills sufficient to make it probable that a typical line pilot can recover an airliner from a serious upset with minimum altitude loss. U.S. airline pilots no longer come primarily from military flight backgrounds where training afforded them extensive opportunity to perform aerobatic flight maneuvers. For military trained pilots there are no unusual attitudes, only unexpected attitudes. By contrast, most air transport pilots flying today have never experienced the extreme pitch and bank angles and high G forces associated with severe airplane upsets. Indeed, most have never been upside-down in an airplane even once. Informal conversations with current airline pilots suggest that while virtually all regard the company-provided upset training they receive as useful, a significant number also perceive it as a pro forma approach to a serious safety problem—better than nothing but far from what would be desirable if training costs were not a paramount consideration. Although aerobatic training has not so far been authoritatively related to upset-recovery success in a transport type airplane, aerobatic flight in a light airplane would provide an opportunity for pilots to practice maneuvering in extreme attitudes across wide airspeed and energy level ranges. This might in turn lead to greater confidence and maneuvering proficiency in an actual upset situation.

Guidance for Former Military Instructors Who Want an FAA CFI Certificate

The FAA published several revisions to CFR 14 Part 61 on 22 October, including a change to § 61.73(g) that allows current and former U.S. military instructor pilots to apply for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight instructor certificate with ratings based on those on their commercial or ATP certificates. Military IPs, included retired aviators, can earn a CFI by documenting their experience and passing a knowledge test. No training or practical test is required.

The FAA has published guidance for its FSDO inspectors. The description of the process and requirements are available at; click the following link or search for “New Section 61.73(g) That Allows Current and Former U.S. Military Instructor Pilots to Apply for an FAA Flight Instructor Certificate.”

ASA (publisher of my Flight Simulator book) has a download edition of its Prepware to prepare for the Military Competency and Military Competency Instructor (MCI) FAA Knowledge Exams. The software is available as a download for Windows or the Mac for $39.95.

Four-Ship Formation Practice over Lake Mead

Here’s another YouTube video from my last visit to the Las Vegas area. Three of my RV-flying friends and I did a practice four-ship formation flight over Lake Mead. The RV owners include experienced former fighter pilots (lead on this flight was the aggressor squadron commander at Nellis AFB before he retired); I’m still learning.

We practice regularly, always with a detailed preflight briefing and a post-flight critique. It’s a fun skill to learn with proper instruction.

More Tumbles in the Extra 300L

Here’s a short YouTube video that shows a few tumbles from knife-edge in the Extra 300L. I demoed a couple, and then a friend of mine tried some, with interesting results.

For this type of tumble (a variety of Lomcevak), the procedure is:

  • From straight-and-level and at full power and 120-140 KIAS, pitch up smartly to 45 degrees.
  • Roll to left knife-edge (90 degree bank) and immediately apply full right rudder to hold the nose up.
  • Briskly push the stick to the forward-right corner. It should be held against the stop.
  • The airplane begins an outside snap roll to the right and rotates around all three axes.
  • At an entry speed of about 90 KIAS, the airplane has enough energy to complete three full rotations.
  • At the entry, you normally experience about -2.5G.

Note that during the demos, after the first full rotation, the airplane appears to pivot around the left wingtip. My version of turns around a point.