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Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

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Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby jjbaker » Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:18 pm

Now He's Gone Crazy!

Hi Folks,

I have a problem. I have many problems, yes, but... I have a specific problem with accidental gear down water landings.
Our industry has struggled with those surprise accidents and our industry has buried many along the years for having forgotten to raise their gear prior to landing on water.
From what I can tell, the kind of accident is in no way limited or qualified by experience, flight time, time in type, equipment used, number of pilots on board or private vs. commercial operations.

In other words, if you fly an amphibious aircraft, you are prune (not guaranteed, but likely) to make a mistake or be involved in a situation that takes your mind off the aircraft's configuration for long enough to cause an "Oops!" moment. Now, many of those oops's get rectified before we have a chance to kill ourselves or someone else, but sometimes they are not.

I do realize that there are several tools available to keep the pilot mentally attached to configuration and aircraft setup, either by use of checklists, or acronyms that are aimed to ensure the pilots compliance with the "must have items" before takeoff, takeoff, departure, climb, cruise, approach & landing. But, are they used consequently enough to prevent accidents?

Without going into scientific research, I do continue to ask if we're doing everything we can to prevent accidental gear down accidents?

Proposed Solutions: (Some Of Them Years & Years Old)

  • Someone once proposed to build a water-soluble gear mechanism (True Story!). Once it gets wet, it sheers off. Doh!
  • Use your checklists and perform visual inspections (pin, lights, mirrors, voice) prior to every touchdown.
  • Use acronyms such as GUMPS (Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture Prop(s), Safety
  • Signs & Placards

If I remember correctly, I was introduced to GUMPS once I started commercial pilot training in the U.S. While the subject was drilled into fixed gear, non complex pilots where I learned to fly, no emphasis was placed on the subject until I started flying complex airplanes. The use of checklists has always been drilled, however we seem to have a great number of pilots who "know what they're doing", hence won't use a checklist anymore. How many times will you pull the checklist out to start a 172 that you have started 5000+ times? Signs and placards are decoration in the cockpit, they may get your attention once or for a while, and then they fade into your peripheral vision.

I don't think we can fix our existing pilot populace (retraining is harder than initial training) and to some respect we need to trust CFI's to pay attention during transition training to more complex machinery or checkouts/ BFR's in them. Much of this will depend on how the previous Piper Cub straight float guy transitions to the 206 on Amphibs...

But, could we change our initial training and testing parameters?

There are some "puppy mills" out there which train a new seaplane pilot within 5-8 hours. If done right, a seaplane rating can be issued within a day, max two, pending weather.
PTS only is on the menu, checkrides often/ primarily done by examiners who give checkrides day in and day out to students from the same instructor pool.

Especially in use of non complex/ non amphibious seaplanes, would it make sense to include the gear position (even if fake/ simulated) during initial training?
For the sake of argument, lets assume a 23 year old career son/ daughter who has their $2000 seaplane rating knocked out on short schedule, but won't return to flying seaplanes until much later in the game, possibly between age 40-50 with enough money saved up to go out and buy a nice toy on amphibs. Conversely, how about the sport pilot/ private pilot, who owns and flies a 172, decides to downgrade to LSA and buys any of the given amphibious applications out there. My guess is, a buyer is going to get through transition training, but habituated is no use/ concern for gear.

During a recent discussion on an instructor site, someone mentioned a stick on gear handle that used to be available with Sporty's.
I can't help think that such a stick on gear handle could be used in non complex land and seaplanes, to ingrain the gear position in the students mind, from day one.

gearlever.JPG
gearlever.JPG (24.76 KiB) Viewed 4605 times


Anyone experimented with or tried this?
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:03 am

You could start by getting rid of " up and down " . If I had an anphib I would change " down " to an outline of a car symbol and " up " to a boat looking symbol. I need it simple stupid to remember.

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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby skimmerone » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:30 am

I've seen a few Lakes with placards next to the gear lever that say "UP WATER" and "DOWN LAND" . This is all very well, but if you have a brain fart and don't look out the window or use some kind of mental checklist, including saying it outloud, you are in deep doo doo.

I have always been an advocate of adding "gear down and locked" to my students checklist in preparation for their upgrading to a complex aircraft.
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby RKittine » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:25 pm

I teach even primary students to do two gump checks, one on down wind and one on final. Cessna and many other aircraft have Both or only one fuel on, but Gas on Fullest is still good. Undercarriage. OK, in many fixed gear you can see the wheels , so not a bad idea to call out I got one, Mixture Full rich even in my Champ with no mixture controll and prop still turning if not Full Forward.

Although usually less fatal and still very imbarrassing, landing with the gear up on terra firma, is a bigg problem as we all know. Many instructors have pulled the gear warning horn circuit breake and forgot to turn it back on.

Just need to use as many tools as possible to at least reduce the risk.
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:58 am

Car, Boat. You don't drive a car in the water and a boat doesn't get far on payment, Forget up and down.

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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby CFII » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:26 am

All good CFIs teach to use appropriate checklists, as the FAA stipulates. So few pilots will ever get into amphibions that it is considered impractical and annoying by most land pilots to learn anything other than GUMPS.

If they do advance into the Amphib realm of checklists:

Gear Up for Sea and Sea
Gear Down for Ground

(Verify and Repeat....)
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:46 am

Acronyms just give me a brain fart. Car or Boat, Drive or Float, Dry or Wet is easier and simple. If GUMPS worked we wouldn't be having gear down water landings.

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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:02 pm

Even lights will spin your brain.




Oct 17 at 2:58 PM


NTSB Report U206F Amphibian Flip Over 8-30-2013 Stinson Lake Rumney NH

NTSB Report Narrative History of Flight
Describe what occurred in chronological order, including circumstances leading to and nature of accident/ incident. Describe terrain and include wreckage distribution sketch if pertinent. Attach extra sheets if needed. State time and point of departure, intended destination and services obtained.
Seaplane N208LH Flip Over Chain of Events
By Donald Stoppe, the pilot
On August 30, 2013 a Cessna U206F amphibian flipped on landing on Stinson Lake in Rumney, New Hampshire. The pilot, the passenger and dog escaped uninjured. The pilot was a 52 year old Airline Transport Pilot and Multi Engine Instrument Flight instructor with 3000 hours total time of which 2100 were in a complex aircraft. He had 110 hours in amphibian N208LH since December and little seaplane time prior.
Stationair N208LH departed at 5:20 PM from a 2400’ grass runway in Plymouth NH (1P1) and was headed to Moultonboro (5M3) for annual inspection. The pilots Golden Retriever "Tracker" and brother-in-law "Nick" were along for the ride. They planned a quick stop in Stinson Lake and Loon Lake before leaving the plane at Moultonboro. The pilot measured 14 gallons of fuel in the right tank, 5 in the left and 12 quarts of oil in the engine.

The mood of the flight was relaxed. Noise canceling headsets were used and music played in the background that further hindered hearing of critical engine sounds. The flight was after a stressful day of work. Mentally I was C+ material at best. Concentration and focus was not as high as I like for flying.

The usual place of departure was from a mountain lake nearby. Lake departures do not require gear retraction as the gear is already up. On departing Plymouth flaps were retracted but the gear was not raised. Stinson Lake is only 6 miles from Plymouth and Stinson Lake1500’ above the airport elevation. The lake is on the back side of Stinson Mountain so the climb was immediate. There was no cruise phase of flight to check all settings for cruise. As I climbed out I pointed to 4 green lights on the dash and said aloud, “Gear is up for water landing”. A note I placarded on the dash reads,“ Check Thrice, Gear up Water, Gear Down Land”. The passenger was a non-pilot and was un-phased by the call. At the top of the pass with the lake in sight I pointed to 4 green lights again and repeated aloud, Gear is up for water landing”. Four blue lights actually indicate gear is up for water landing but my non-pilot passenger did not know otherwise to correct me and green lights seemed like a “Go” to him.
Amphibians are heavy and do not climb well. This makes for a hot engine in climb. The number 2 cylinder reached 414 degrees by the top of the climb. I reduced power at the top and went lean of peak to 12.3 gallons per hour and 2400 RPM to cool the engine. Vapor lock is common if shutting down with a hot engine and I wanted it cooler before we touched down. 10 degrees of flaps were added and later 20 degrees. On final approach 40’ off the water and 75 MPH the gear warning indicator sounded, “Gear is down for runway landing”. I immediately initiated a go-around. With a single open hand I pushed throttle and prop with the palm of my hand brushing mixture with my fingertips in a fast wrist pivoting motion. The Vernier prop and mixture controls require the center button to be fully pushed in to advance the controls. Some power developed and background noise increased from the prop RPMs. About 6 seconds later I realized we were still settling in and touchdown was imminent. I told Nick, “We are in trouble! We are going to flip!”. The plane touched down under partial power about 4 seconds later. The stall horn was sounding. Airspeed must have been about 45 mph with RSTOL, VGs and wing tip extensions. Nick had time to put his arm around the dog and tightened his shoulder harness. I had tightened my shoulder harness and cracked the door handle. We were told by people on shore that the engine RPMs increased but the engine was sputtering when I tried to go around. I could not hear engine sputtering with the new generation Bose noise canceling headsets and background music playing.

We immediately flipped on touchdown. Water rushed in as I got out of the plane. I looked over at Nick as he opened the aftermarket co-pilot door to get out. I grabbed Tracker by the collar swimming in the back seat. We all exited the plane without injury or taking in water. Within 15 seconds after that the cabin was full of water. The plane came to rest upside down like a flipped catamaran. Boats from all around rushed to the scene within a minute of touch down offering assistance. This was Friday on Labor Day weekend and lots of assistance was available. A boat towed us closer to shore. An observer called 911. See video links from WMUR News 9 of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puBQdzU99zc (Preview)


and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raFx7v7zrUI (Preview)



RECOMMENDATION (How could this accident/incident have been prevented?) Operator/Owner Safety Recommendation

I take responsibility for my actions. That said there are things I will do differently as a pilot and there are things amphibian pilots can incorporate to make this less likely to happen.




Glenn
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby jjbaker » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:10 pm

cubdriver2 wrote:If GUMPS worked we wouldn't be having gear down water landings.

Glenn



+1

I believe GUMPS would work better if it was introduced habituated earlier during training. I remember all to vividly the gear not being of much concern because it was "welded".
I do agree also with the fact that gear up or down + all the voice commands, lights and stuff, ain't sufficient. It is still simply forgotten. The 7-15 second Whoops.
It takes what, roughly 7-15 seconds to completely raise the gear on an amphibian?

Quite a story on Mr. Stoppe's little mishap. Nice of him to share it with those around him who haven't had the issue.
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:21 pm

My friend Joe with the Carbon Cub owned that 206A for twenty years and just sold it last year. You should have seen the sad look on his face when we landed at Multonboro NH last week for gas and saw it sitting there ruined

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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:08 am

Imagine the sad looks when someone drowns.
We've got enough reasons to talk about these sorts of accidents and we need to work as a community to make them disappear.

The pilots these accidents happen to aren't idiots, inexperienced or negligent individuals. This stuff is real and it kills people.
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby KlausNW » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:51 pm

I have wanted to mount one of these little 'sport cams' in a place where it can view all the gear and a screen in front of the pilot. If you go out to the right wing tip looking in you would be able to see all the gear on most planes.
With a 4 inch screen mounted on top the dash right in the pilots face would give them every chance to know the position of the gear at all times.
I'm short of an aircraft that can be used.... maybe someone out there has one?
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:49 pm

GoPro and a smart phone will give you a wireless setup or http://www.ebay.com/sch/6000/i.html?_nk ... era&_rdc=2

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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:54 pm

Of course you then have to not only look at it (keep from getting distracted) and then interpret what you see. A number of years ago, two CFIs took one of my Beech BE-76 Duchess's out at night to practice together for their ATP rides. After the incident that happened, they admitted that one called out "Gear Down and Locked" and the other one called out "Confirmed". They were at DuPage County Airport in the suburbs of Chicago. When the crash truck got to the plane, they reported that the gear handle was in the "Up" position and that all three position lights were glowing red. It was VFR Conditions and the co-pilot at the time was probably watching for traffic and the pilot, under the hood, initially made the practice approach to minimums with an engine out (simulated). Fortunately no one got hurt, but my pocket book as the plane was off the line for 5 months due to issues getting new spars, which had been damaged.
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Re: Stick On Gear Levers For Straight Float Training

Unread postby CFII » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:46 pm

Your idea of the stick-on falsie gear level MIGHT be a good flightbag tool for individual CFIs to move from plane to plane and use on a case by case basis. Certainly worth considering and not cost prohibitive either.
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