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Open AccessArticle

Visual Flight into Instrument Meteorological Condition: A Post Accident Analysis

by Ayiei Ayiei 1, John Murray 1,2 and Graham Wild 1,3,*
School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne 3000, Australia
School of Engineering, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup 6027, Australia
School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales Canberra, Canberra 2612, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Safety 2020, 6(2), 19;
Received: 7 February 2020 / Revised: 6 April 2020 / Accepted: 7 April 2020 / Published: 9 April 2020
The phenomenon of encountering instrument meteorological conditions (IMCs) while operating an aircraft under visual flight rules (VFRs) remains a primary area of concern. Studies have established that pilots operating under VFRs that continue to operate under IMCs remains a significant cause of accidents in general aviation (GA), resulting in hundreds of fatalities. This research used the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) database, which contained a total of 196 VFR to IMC occurrences, from 2003 to 2019, with 26 having formal reports. An explanatory design was adopted, commencing with a qualitative study of the 26 occurrences with reports followed by a quantitative study of all 196 occurrences. Factors investigated included the locations and date of the occurrences, involved aircraft (manufacturer, model, type), pilot details (licenses, ratings, h, and medical), number of fatalities, and causal factors. Fisher’s exact tests were used to highlight significant relationships. Results showed occurrences were more likely to end fatally if (1) they involved private operations, (2) pilots only had a night VFR rating, (3) the pilot chose to push on into IMCs, (4) the pilot did not undertake proper preflight planning consulting aviation weather services, and (5) the pilot had more than 500 h of flight experience. Further results showed occurrences were less likely to end fatally if the meteorological condition was clouds without precipitation, if the pilot held a full instrument rating, or the pilot was assisted via radio. Analysis of the data using the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) framework revealed that errors and violations occur with slightly greater frequency for fatal occurrences than non-fatal occurrences. Quantitative analyses demonstrated that the number of VFR to IMC occurrences have not decreased even though initiatives have been implemented in an attempt to address the issue. View Full-Text
Keywords: accidents; aviation; HFACS; safety occurrences; visibility; weather accidents; aviation; HFACS; safety occurrences; visibility; weather
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ayiei, A.; Murray, J.; Wild, G. Visual Flight into Instrument Meteorological Condition: A Post Accident Analysis. Safety 2020, 6, 19.

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