Stay in Control: Fully Developed Spins

From the 1944 book, Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche:
“Almost all fatal flying accidents are caused by loss of control during a turn!”
From the ATSB in 2007:
“general aviation fatal accidents … most prevalent type of accident was a UFIT”
From CASA in 2007:
“Three quarters of aviation accidents in Australia result from problems with the operation or handling of an aircraft.”

From CASA in March 2016 at

“According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), in 2014, the number of aircraft ‘control problems’ involving general aviation (GA) aircraft was the highest [it has been] in the last 10 years. This was significantly greater than the 10-year average; however, it was consistent with the general trend (since 2010) of increasing aircraft control occurrences in GA.”

The situation is similar in the USA

“The March/April 2016 issue of FAA Safety Briefing focuses on the leading cause of general aviation accidents — loss of control.”

Similar situation in the UK. GascoLOCs

CASA’s article goes on to state: “Whoever’s data you use, it’s clear that we need to know a lot more about stalls and spins, and how to avoid them.” And then: “To recover from a spin, lower the angle of attack (push forward on the controls) and stop the yaw (apply rudder opposite the direction of spin until rotation stops).” Really, is that really what CASA is promoting as the spin recovery technique after telling us that we need to know a lot more about stalls and spins?

In June 2014 there was a serious spin accident involving a Chipmunk and the ATSB noted that: ” Furthermore, the pilot was taught a spin recovery method that was not effective for recovering from such spins in the aircraft.” It is interesting to note that CASA’s Part 61 MOS requires spin trainees to know “standard spin entry and recovery techniques for the aircraft being flown” only – wouldn’t it be good if they knew something about other types perhaps requiring different techniques. We will see that the above spin recovery technique promoted by CASA is generally ineffective in recovery from an inadvertent spin. So, perhaps loss of control is destined to remain the main cause of fatal accidents!

I’ll send you off to read the relevant text of two other CASA documents next:

  • CAAP 155-1, Aerobatics “7.22 Standard Spin Recovery:
    • Close throttle;
    • Centralise ailerons;
    • Identify if the aircraft is spinning, the direction, and whether
    upright or inverted;
    • Full rudder opposite to rotation (opposite to yaw);
    • Pause;
    • Elevator forward for upright and back for inverted as required
    to unstall;
    • When rotation stops – centralise rudder;
    • Roll wings level and recover to level flight.”
  • CASA Flight Instructor Manual Note the conflicting actions for recovery from an incipient spin on pages 52 and 53 – aha, that’s what happens with something done by a committee combined with a lack of knowledge of what an incipient spin is! For a fully developed spin: “To recover, first ensure that the throttle is closed, ailerons neutral and the direction of turn identified. This is followed by application of full opposite rudder. After a brief pause ease the control column forward progressively until the spinning stops. Centralize the rudder and ease gently out of the resulting steep dive, levelling the wings.”

It is interesting to compare the spin recovery instructions in the CAAP with that in the Flight Instructor Manual – now we have three different sets of spin recovery instructions from CASA with diddly squat explanation from the regulator. It is interesting that one method has elevator applied before the rudder and the other two have rudder applied before the elevator but, in one case a pause between the actions and in the other a “brief pause”. Why? How long is a pause? How long is a brief pause?

Now to look at some more comprehensive notes which are available free online.

The APS Emergency Maneuver Training Pilot Training Manual is free online. See Page 26 for common reflexive actions in initial stall/spin training – so, if a spin is encountered with nil training then expect one or more of these to occur which will make life much worse. e.g. “• Involuntary swearing and sweating • Continuing to hold the elevator control aft because of a dramatic, nose-down flight attitude • Inadvertently applying opposite aileron as a wing dips at the stall break, or as the airplane starts to roll into an incipient spin • Wildly shoving the elevator control forward”

Also read these pages in particular:

  • Page 78 for incipient spin recoveries
  • Page 80 for fully developed spin recoveries – remember PARE!
  • Page 83 for aggravated and inverted spin modes – remember PARE!
  • Page 86 for inadvertent spin entries – remember PARE which is:

NASA Standard Spin Recovery: P.A.R.E. Recovery
“Power” – Reduce power to idle.
“Ailerons” – Neutralize the ailerons (select flaps up). Do not allow ailerons to be deflected in either direction. “Rudder” – Determine direction of the spin and then push full rudder opposite the rotation of the spin and hold until rotation stops.
“Elevator” – Immediately following the completion of pushing full opposite rudder to full control deflection, then:
UPRIGHT SPIN: Push elevator forward through neutral INVERTED SPIN: Pull elevator aft through neutral Some aircraft may required full elevator deflection to effectively reduce angle of attack sufficiently to recover.

Hold these inputs until rotation stops, then immediately:

“Rudder” – Neutralize the rudder (very important, holding opposite rudder deflected during recovery increases the risk of entering a spin in the opposite direction).
“Elevator” – Since the nose is now pointing straight down (whether recovering from a developed upright or inverted spin), airspeed will build rapidly. Smoothly but aggressively pull to the prebriefed G-load to effectively bring the nose back to the horizon.”

Isn’t that much clearer and more sensible than any of the CASA explanations?

Of course, I must end with the usual disclaimer about some aircraft types requiring something different and that would be specified in the Flight Manual. Off course, the Beggs-Mueller or Finagin Antispin Recovery Technique (FART) methods are useful if you are absolutely sure that it applies to the type in all spin modes.

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