Student pilot dies trying to follow ATC instructions

London
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The UK Civil Aviation Authority has accepted recommendations that air traffic controllers should be notified when they guide solo flying student pilots taking-off or landing.

The move follows recommendations by accident investigators after a fatal Cessna 150 crash that occurred when a 16-year-old solo student pilot was asked by air traffic control to carry out an unfamiliar manoeuvre.

The UK CAA agreed that there should be a "suitable prefix for use in civil radio telephony to signify a student pilot flying solo". The student is believed to be the youngest pilot fatality in the history of British aviation.

The accident occurred at Southend airport on 19 July 2006 during a student pilot's second solo flight. The instructor had just flown two circuits with the student and then, after clearing the runway, he informed the tower controller that the next circuits would be solo.

The controller replied: "Approved." At 15:08 the student called: "Bravo bravo [G-BABB] taxi for circuit solo circuit please," and was cleared to the holding point for runway 06. At 15:10 the tower controller handed over to another controller.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report says the relieving controller was not aware that the Cessna pilot was a solo student.

When, at 15:20, he cleared the pilot to take off, the circuit was clear. At 15:23 the student reported "downwind", and the tower responded: "Golf bravo bravo number one report final zero six."

Meanwhile, Southend's approach controller had identified an approaching Piper Malibu Meridian, a fast single-turboprop that had been handed over by London Control. At that point, it was only 2min away and catching up with the Cessna 150, which was about to report on final approach.

The controllers discussed whether to tell the Cessna to go around or the Malibu to carry out an orbit, but the approach controller was worried about an orbit because of a number of "unknowns" - unidentified primary radar contacts - close by.

When the student reported on final, the tower said: "Maintain runway centreline but go around, er, there's fast traffic behind to land."

Becoming worried that the landing Malibu might actually pass beneath the Cessna, the tower told the student pilot: "Golf bravo bravo disregard that, just take a left turn and fly north. I'll call you back shortly."

The student did not respond. The controller requested confirmation that he was turning north and the pilot replied that he was.

The Cessna, still flying low and slow in landing configuration, stalled and entered a spiral dive into a public park, killing the pilot.

 

 

REDUCING RISK FOR STUDENTS 

 

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch report concludes that the student pilot had been "presented with a situation beyond his experience", and although the Cessna 150's engine was functioning properly, insufficient power was set to fly level in the landing configuration without losing speed.

As well as proposing a radio telephony prefix identifying solo student pilots, the investigator recommends: "With the exception of issuing instructions to go around, controllers shall not issue instructions that would require an aircraft in the final stages of approaching to land to deviate from its expected flightpath unless exceptional overriding safety considerations apply."