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Retro but current

Projects swapping combustion engines for electric power seek to give long-serving aircraft types a second, green career. Clean-sheet aircraft designs require not only huge sums...

Keep your nose clean

Propeller strike is expensive, embarrassing, but not inevitable. The phrase 'prop strike' will make any aviator's gut wrench – from the sound, shock of impact...

Four failures and a lucky break

If not for sheer luck, the headline here would have been 4 failures and a funeral.

Hit your target – or learn to handle rejection

Take-off is no time for wishful thinking. Pilots tend to be optimists. Advancing the throttle(s) for take-off, expectation bias lulls us into 'seeing' all is...

Vertical challenger

The designers of what is planned to be Australia's first certified advanced air mobility aircraft say technology and safety go hand in hand. Safety was...

Shortcut to destruction

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it saved 200 labour hours, but it turned out to be a human factors...

Getting in the zone

For private pilots, flying in controlled airspace requires 3 things: preparation, concentration and communication, as the editor of Flight Safety Australia discovered for himself. To...
Photo of pilot in a cockpit wearing virtual reality headset overlayed with an abstract pattern.

Readjusting to new realities

As Maintenance Month unfolds, we revisit this 2023 article spotlighting the aviation industry's agility in adjusting to the new challenges and opportunities of virtual and augmented reality technology.

Phoney maintenance revisited

As we celebrate Maintenance Month, we revisit this insightful 2019 article shedding light on the crucial yet often overlooked aspect of aviation safety: maintenance practices. Delving into the intricacies of maintenance procedures, it serves as a timely reminder of the vital role maintenance plays in ensuring the safety and reliability of aircraft operations.

Nose to the grindstone

Boeing 747-312 VH-INH Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, 12:22 pm, 19 October 1994 Every accident, no matter how minor, is a failure of the organisation. – Jerome F...

Proficient approaching professional

Specific programs for weekend and fair-weather pilots to hone their skills are money well spent. Imagine it's a clear sunny day – perfect conditions. You're...

See you, see me: ADS-B

Automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) could save your life which is why the government will pay you to fit it. What is ADS-B? ADS-B is a system...

The comfort of control

The benefit of flying in controlled airspace is you are no longer alone in the sky but have a team working to keep you...

Aviate, navigate, communicate, educate

Kreisha Ballantyne takes a look at the effectiveness of aviation safety awareness campaigns in Australia and overseas. Some days the news seems too awful to...

Caught in the clouds

How thorough flight planning can avoid the trap of VFR into IMC The recent accidents of a Van’s Aircraft flying into cloud and breaking up...

Power to the pedal

When a flock of birds met a heavily loaded aircraft flown by a newly converted pilot inexperienced in the characteristics of the new type,...

The bonfire of the inadequacies

The malfunction of a flight instrument was only one link in a chain of shortcomings that turned a cargo aircraft into a winter inferno. Boeing...

Smoke is no joke

With climate change and now an El Niño upon us, bushfires are set to increase in frequency and severity. The atmospheric effects of these fires are a distinct aviation hazard in their own right.

Ace your flight review: 7 secrets to success

Flight reviews come around fast and can be a nerve-racking experience – particularly if you’re not maintaining your currency as a pilot. These 7 tips can help you ace the experience.

Dirty plus thirty

A 12-factor classification of maintenance hazards remains as relevant as it was in 1993. Gordon Dupont’s' dirty dozen’, identifies manageable distinct safety problems, breaking a huge vague challenge into 12 smaller ones.

Seven deadly shortcuts cognitive biases and aviation

The habits and tricks your brain uses to get you through everyday life become a problem when they run riot in the cockpit. To battle your biases you first need to know what they are.

Planning for the worst: performance and alternates

As a professional pilot, you plan for depressurisation and engine failures. Doing this thoroughly means also planning for fuel for the remainder of your...
Old home PC with 80's retro graphics

Desktop to cockpit

Is modern desk-based aircraft simulation good enough to get Adrian Park through a check ride (or 2) after a few years away from the...

A lot to be bearing in mind

Should it have been a surprise when an aircraft engine that had not been overhauled for 23 years exploded, sprayed oil over the windscreen and led to a crash that seriously injured the pilot.
Helicopter flying

The gremlin and the governor

When the system that controls a helicopter's engine RPM becomes unreliable, the result can be an uncomfortable period of in-flight anarchy. The pilot was taken...

A kamikaze’s inevitable fate

The pilot had a frightening nickname, and a reputation as a confident, highly skilled rogue. But nothing was done until it was too late. Aerospatiale...
Glider gliding

From bricks to beauties: a lifetime aloft

A birthday gift allowed pilot Michael Apps to compare and contrast modern gliding with his early experiences of the sport. Germany was banned from developing...

Ramping up

Ground handling, an often-overlooked corner of aviation safety, is facing post-COVID-19 challenges. Ask a military or general aviation pilot how an aircraft flies and your...

Limitations are real

The rules that govern your aircraft's performance envelope are not imposed by regulators, but by nature. Ignore them at your peril. An excerpt from an...
Small plane flying among the clouds and blue sky

An underwriter among friends

Urbane is the ideal word to describe Julian Fraser. But it's also an ironic term, considering his background. The son of a station manager, he...
Small plane flying during sunset

Creatures of habit

Good ones are your best friends, bad ones are treacherous enemies, so sort out your aviation habits, says Kreisha Ballantyne. I was recently asked to...
Artist impression of people boarding the Boeing B-17C, 40-2072, VH-CBA Bakers Creek, Qld 6:02 am, 14 June 1943

Journey’s end: the Bakers Creek disaster

It remains the most deadly aircraft crash on Australian soil, yet is largely unknown outside the town where it happened. Boeing B-17C, 40-2072, VH-CBA Bakers Creek,...
Dark clouds

Whatever the weather: learning the hard way

Some character-building encounters with wind, rain and cloud teach this handful of pilots the perils of optimism. 'Forecast looks good, mate. The hail isn't meant...

Weather wisdom: unravelling probability – PROB30 and PROB40 

It pays to understand the use of PROB on weather forecasts, as it has significant safety and regulatory implications for flight planning.
Photo of person holding the wing tip of a glider and signalling a tug with their arm.

Double-plus caution: watch for gliders

Gliders don't behave the same as a powered aircraft, so best not to expect them to. Researching this article, I found myself in the front...
Photo of a De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth, vintage biplane

The first and the last

Graham Murphy's sixty-year career began in a wood and canvas biplane and took him high into the flight levels, behind the glass displays of...
Photo of small aircraft taking off from a runway

In the slot to hit the spot

Striving for accuracy in landings will benefit every phase of your flying. It's fun to be the ace of the base and win a spot...
Close up of snow flake on a blue background

Winter’s burden: avoiding the icy grip

Understand the threat, and don't wing it through icy conditions this winter. Flying in winter has many perks, such as smooth crisp air and a...
White helicopter flying in a cloudy white sky

Bump, snap, chop, drop

Mast bumping is an instant terminator of helicopter flight, and pilots' lives. It needs to be understood to be avoided. Case study: tested to destruction A...
Technical illustration of a drone

The unseen hand: automation, human factors and drones

Margo Marchbank talks to industry professionals on how the powerful combination of automation, human capabilities and human limitations affects uncrewed aviation in unique ways. There's...
Illustration style image of a small aircraft flying close to powerlines

One strike and you’re out

Wire strike rarely offers second chances, which means knowledge, planning and abundant caution are your only defences. For most private pilots, the best strategy to...
Photo of two males operating a home flight simulator

Simulate or stagnate

After years of flying a desk Adrian Park faces the dilemma of how to preserve his skills. Could the solution be in the computer...
Illustration of aircraft flying towards a radio tower in patchy fog (view from ground looking up).

Impact at Polo Flat

Pilatus PC/6 B1 Series H2 Porter VH-SMB Cooma, NSW 10:02 am Thursday 20 May 1976 A single mistake by an experienced pilot led to instant annihilation....
Photo of pilot in a cockpit wearing virtual reality headset overlayed with an abstract pattern.

Adjusting to new realities

The technologies of virtual and mixed reality are revolutionising aviation maintenance. Simulation has been part of aviation since at least 1929 when Edwin Link built...
Piper alpha oil platform explosion

Piper Alpha after 35 years – the heartbreak and the lessons

To commemorate the disaster's anniversary, Flight Safety Australia revisits our 2018 story on an infamous oil platform disaster which has grim, but abundant, parallels...
Photo of small aircraft parked on the red earth at Corynnia Station.

Plan before you land

Uncertified aerodromes, bush strips and paddocks can be perfectly good landing areas – or traps. It's up to you to find out which is...
Plane flying with markers demonstrating situational awareness.

Now and next: the subtleties of state and trend

Knowing how your aircraft is trending is a refined form of situational awareness that should always be in fashion. Pilots tend to be pretty good...
Illustration of fatigued pilot.

Pilot fatigue: let’s go back to basics

For pilots, sleep is not a luxury. Your safety in flight depends on being well rested. Once you're a private pilot, you have the luxury...
Skydiver jumping out of a plane with a second small aircraft in the background

When friends drop in

After an unsettling experience, Angela Stevenson decided to get familiar with parachute operations – and took the plunge. Flying through a military parachute-training drop zone,...
image: Adels Grove, Qld | Nick Stobie

Singularity and safety

Single-engine aircraft are often operated privately under IFR, but traditionally, charter and air transport under IFR have been limited to twins. Nick Stobie looks...
Illustration of Black Rock and its lighthouse with the text 'The phantom menace' in celtic font

The phantom menace

A terrible danger waited on the spot in the ocean where the real world and the digital world diverged. Sikorsky S-92A, EI-ICR, Rescue 116 Black Rock,...
Robinson R22 helicopter flying with clouds in the background

Robinson’s revolution

The operational history of helicopter designs in Australia by Frank Robinson is a case study in how safety comes from the interaction of engineering, training and culture.
Using the same hymn sheet

Using the same hymn sheet: safe flight in controlled airspace

In conjunction with the launch of CASA’s pilot safety hub, Kreisha Ballantyne takes a look at flying at controlled aerodromes. Anyone can sing in the...
abstract technology, drones diagram and futuristic aircraft.

Aviation 2.0

Uncrewed aerial systems have been at the centre of Dr Reece Clothier’s professional life since it began.
Illustration of beads of water on a metal sheet with rivets and the words 'a primer on corrosion'

A primer on corrosion

It is the enemy of most metals, never sleeps, loves damp conditions and wants to eat your aircraft. However, if this story had been written 5 years ago, it might well have started with the line that aircraft corrosion is an issue despite Australia being the driest inhabited continent on Earth.
Flight planning at William Creek

Plan to succeed

The difference between a safe journey and a dangerous debacle is in the preparation, so make good use of your kitchen table. Before any flight...
image: Adobe Stock (modified) | TIMDAVIDCOLLECTION

Things that go bump in the night

Two experienced helicopter pilots, a common training exercise and a freshly paved runway. How did this combination lead to a damaged helicopter and a narrow escape from catastrophe? 
A stationary aircraft at Narrabri airfield.

Getting real: an editor’s dilemma

Most of Flight Safety Australia editor Ross Peake's working decisions are made in the office (or home office). So it was a refreshing change and a reminder of the realities of psychological pressure to make a solo flight to outback Queensland.
Abstract representation of COVID-19, an aircraft flying in the sky and an abstract global marketplace graph

Wait for it

The after effects of 2 years of COVID-19 continue in aviation in the form of supply chain difficulties. Is this aviation's long COVID? So much for the 'roaring twenties'. Pandemic and war have reintroduced scarcity to economies around the world after years basking in the luxury of just-in-time supply chains in a global marketplace.
Illustration of Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation flying low over a farm building with three boys on the ground looking up at the aircraft above them while running for safety.

Meeting of metal

The collision of 2 airliners in the US, 57 years ago, is a story of superlative airmanship, and a solemn reminder of the limits of see-and-avoid as a defence against collision.
Stationary aircraft on tarmac during a lightning storm.

What a drip!

Pilots should never be afraid of creating a delay if the aircraft is not fit for flight. And passengers annoyed by this might care...
abstract mountain ranges

Avoiding descent below minimums: a simple technique

On the evening of 13 May 2021, a … Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 … departed Ceduna Airport, South Australia (SA), for a charter flight under the instrument flight rules (IFR) to Parafield Airport, SA, with the pilot and one passenger onboard. During the flight, the autopilot system did not function as the pilot expected.
image: Adobe Stock | Belish

More power to your better self

A fatal impact during a training flight involving two experienced pilots prompts Adrian Park to consider the relationship between rules, procedures, compliance and human performance. The words that spell out rules and procedures are dead marks on a page until they are embodied and lived out.
abstract wooden puppets figures balancing cube shapes on a set of wooden scales

Lives in the balance

With aircraft, as in life, a safe and comfortable journey often depends on a question of balance. It was a question that would prove critical for the occupants of a Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 that left Sydney's Bankstown Airport for Cooma one moonless evening in 1992.
abstract representation of dazzle pattern effect and cloudy, foggy sky above mountain ranges.

Dazzled in the gloom

Behind an error that killed 9 people, investigators found an insidious and potent psychological force.
Portrait of Adrianne Fleming sitting inside a small aircraft

Getting on with the job

Adrianne Fleming, OAM, pilot, instructor, owner and Head of Operations of Tristar Aviation, member of multiple government industry advisory panels and author of The Left Seat, has been named Australian Aviation's Female Aviation Leader of the Year 2022.
Summertime, daytime lightning storm over an outback road


Are you ready? Here comes THE best recommendation for a blockbuster summer read. Forget your James Pattersons and Stephen Kings. We're talking edge-of-your-seat, super-thriller stuff. It's called The Top End wet season Graphical Area Forecast (GAF).
Pilot in an aircraft attempting a landing

You only get one shot: emergency landings

Doing it right could save your life, so why not practise? While no pilot would willingly choose to experience a real-life engine failure after take-off (EFATO), regularly practising simulated emergency procedures alongside circuit training should be a conscious decision. Practice forced landings (PFLs) are not the ones you want to get rusty.
vintage aircraft aerobatic flying

As you do

An Australian study reveals an unexpected relationship between pilots, personalities and risk-taking, and provides encouraging evidence of discipline by pilots. Risk-taking and aviation have an uneasy relationship. Taking needless risks is a factor in countless aviation accidents, including inadvertent encounters with instrument meteorological conditions, powerlines, fuel exhaustion and stall speed.
Pilot cleaning the windshield of an aircraft

Don’t be that one

The 53-year-old pilot had a reputation for caution and thoroughness and ‘was always very concerned about safety’ - or so his obituary said. An acquaintance described how he had twice delayed a flight because he was concerned the conditions were beyond his personal minimums.
an illustration of a Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 Marquise and line drawings of the aircrafts specifications

A type of challenge

The morning after, and nine miners were flying back to Kalgoorlie after the previous night’s Christmas celebrations. At a civilised 9.55 am, their chartered aircraft took off from Leinster, outback Western Australia. The flight south to Kalgoorlie was to take about 50 minutes.
Abstract image of an Aircraft flying into troubled sky

Culture, challenge and catastrophe

The crisis provoked by COVID-19 is a challenge to aviation safety that is not going away soon. But history shows how inspired leadership can turn adversity into improvement. Aviation safety is an extremely emotive topic. Whenever the safety and wellbeing of humans is concerned, there is a high degree of public interest.
photograph of helicopter crashing

A dangerous thing happened on the way to the racecourse

The phenomenon' of dynamic rollover is a (sometimes expensive) reminder that helicopters' need expert and careful handling from the moment their rotors' start turning. First Tuesday in November 2013, and racegoers were heading off to Flemington Racecourse for a fun and enjoyable day at the Melbourne Cup.
photo compilation of small aircraft flying low past a rollercoaster

Peril of the passenger

An inexperienced flyer is an unknown factor, so be prepared for anything if you take one for a ride. Do you remember your first time in a small aircraft? You were in the right-hand seat, with the pilot alongside, taking off, landing and everything in between.
image: Adobe Stock | Ilya Akinshin

I quit flying in circles

The Good old bad old days Stuart Jones looks back on procedures of times past. I don’t know whether aviation was better in the mid to...
illustration showing circuit joining procedures

Stalls in the circuit

Pilots are instinctively and correctly cautious on the base‑to-final turn but examination of accident numbers reveals another dangerous phase of circuit flight Let’s look at...
USAir Flight 1016. Charlotte, North Carolina | NTSB

Whichever way you slice it: the end of Flight 1016

One of the first accidents to be dissected by a new theory of causation remains one of that theory’s most telling case studies  By Steve...
The Old Station, Raglan, Qld | Shelley Ross

The ins and outs of ADS-B

Shelley Ross says the safety and operational benefits of this technology make it a must for any category of aircraft FlyDoc25, traffic is C182 ABC,...
Silhouette view from below of a helicopter in the sky

Or forever hold your peace

Using radio to enhance situational awareness is an essential part of flying safely in shared airspace. On 18 September 2020, an Extra EA-300 aeroplane, registered...
An aircraft illustration of a de Havilland Mosquito

A warrior’s death

de Havilland Mosquito B.XX, KB 267/AZ-E Steenburgen, Nord Brabant, The Netherlands Tuesday, 19 September 1944 The most important thing of all is this cockpit drill business … All...
Woman holding a drone

Different but the same

Fiona Church has been a bush pilot, Qantas pilot and now a drone operator. Success in these diverse fields has 3 common ingredients, she says...
Abstract image of maintenance on an aircraft checklist

Check and collect

When you pick up an aircraft after maintenance or repair you are a test pilot, so act like one As I write this, my employer’s...
De Havilland Australia DH-82A Tiger Moth single engine biplane aircraft formerly used for pilot training by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Screaming skulls and Stockholm syndrome

John Laming remembers some of those who taught him to fly, and shudders Few pilots, professional or amateur, forget the good instructors with whom they...
pitot covers on an aircraft

Remove before flight

The lessons learnt from the series of small failures that led to an airliner full of passengers taking off with its pitot covers still...
Small plane flying.

Back in the air: what goes around

Knowing when and how to perform a go-around is a perishable skill that needs practice and revision after the enforced groundings of the past...
an abstract graphic of two aircrafts on a collision course with communication bubbles.

Tragic beyond words

The misunderstanding that led to a terrible accident also highlighted the need for proficiency in aviation English. Progress has been made but experts warn...
A red flag in autumn leaves, in a tree lined field near Pittsburgh

In a field near Pittsburgh

In his previous career as a newspaper reporter, CASA senior media officer Steve Creedy had a first-hand view of one of the most mysterious and...
rendered illustration of a Electric VTOL aircraft

Stranger things – Electric VTOL aircraft

They are coming to a sky near you, using the features and limitations of their technology to create a new form of aviation Roads? Where we’re...
Aerial view of Tasman Island

Southern exposure

If you plan shrewdly, a general aviation tour of Tasmania can be a scenic, safe and enjoyable experience So you’ve decided this is the year...
Pilot in cockpit

A tale of ice and fire

Behind an apparently simple and thankfully, non-fatal crash landing, lay a complex brew of errors, factors and assumptions.  On 19 December 2019, a turbine powered...
illustration of mountains covered in snow and impact path of aircraft

A mountain in the mind

Thai Airways flight TG311 Airbus A310-300, HS-TID Langtang, Nepal 31 July 1992 Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true. –...
an offshore oil rig in cloudy conditions

Down to a sunless sea

I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It’s...
Aircraft propulsion alternatives

Clearing the air: aircraft propulsion alternatives

What becomes of aviation in a world committed to carbon neutrality? The answer might not be as grim as it seems, with new technologies...
Diamond DA42, ZK-EAP, Kaimanawa Range, New Zealand

Cutting a corner

A New Zealand accident involving two professional instructors and a modern well equipped aircraft is a story of how a combination of individual lapses...
bad weather over mountains

It’s my party and I’ll fly if it’s safe to

Temptations and biases to attend an event can be powerful but safety of flight must always come first because winds, cloud and rain don’t...
San Francisco Skyline at night

Son of a pitch-up

Robert Cassidy remembers a close call of a kind that has killed vastly more experienced pilots than he was at the time From September 1984...
Abstract background image kangaroo sign, semi trailer, cogs in a system

Cogs in a system

We can’t say for sure if a truck swerving to avoid a kangaroo on an outback road led to the deaths of 13 people...
Aircraft in a night sky

Instrument failure: the test of trust

Uncertain instrument indications are a deceptive threat, but differing pilot response in 2 incidents of pitot blockage led to drastically different outcomes From the first...
Image: Visualise glide radius

Theory and practice: getting the glide right

Gliding a powered aircraft is a rare and high-stakes exercise. If you have to get down safely without engine power, knowledge and experience will...
image Maintenance-release

Journey to the dark side

The Good old bad old days John Laming revisits an incident that highlights the importance of the maintenance release COVID-19 has seen the closing of world...
image of firefighting aircraft - Fire boss-Avalon

Trained attackers

Coordinating firefighting aircraft is a complex juggling act of safety-critical decisions, played out in heat and smoke Pick your analogy: a bushfire fighting air attack...
Image Tool-control

Back in the box: the importance of tool control...

Technology can assist, but not replace, human thoroughness in controlling this foreign object damage hazard Aircraft maintenance is an unforgiving way to make a living.  As...

Unload your brain, and learn

Be prepared has been a Scout slogan for more than a century but it’s advice that rookie pilots can sometimes overlook. Veteran Rex training and...
situational awareness

Above all, beware

Your choice: cultivate this so-called ‘soft’ skill or expose yourself to hard consequences Researching this article, I came across the website FairyGodBoss which declared: ‘Forget...
Image of two pilots flying a helicopter

Know your score

Can you be brutally honest about your flying skills? If so, here’s a way to help you improve. Most Flight Safety Australia readers probably know...
Illustration of electric aircraft

Charging up – flying an electric aircraft

Electric aircraft aren’t coming: they are here. With them comes a new combination of operating limitations and significant advantages. We take a look at...

The write stuff

World champion air racer Matt Hall puts his flight planning on the record Planning and debriefing are key factors in Matt Hall’s every flight,...
Illustration of wreckage including newspaper articles, wheel and suitcase. Text: No place for a hero

No place for a hero

‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’ – Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar...
Aerial view over landscape in country NSW

Your backup is yourself

Keeping current in the fundamentals of navigation is vital, even in the digital era It’s been a stunning morning in the air. Two pilots, best...
Photo of Stuart Aggs

Safety leadership: from compliance to trust

Stuart Aggs, Virgin Australia Group Chief Operations Officer, is a firm believer in delegating authority to those with the responsibility for safety.  Ultimately, the buck...
Silhouette of small aircraft in the sky at dusk

I’m good, just ask me: The killer factor in weather crashes

A psychological perspective on VFR-into-IMC accidents makes some alarming findings, but suggests new solutions By Anthony Stanton and Robert Wilson One flight lasted just over a...
Cessna 172S in flight

Telling it like it is

CASA’s latest Plain English Guide is a bonus that comes with the new Part 91 regulations New flight operations rules began on 2 December, covering...

Keeping on truckin’

The air cargo industry escaped the decimation that COVID-19 wrought on passenger aviation. But keeping the goods moving in a time of pandemic has...
Helicopter water bomber putting out fires in a bushland environment

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Flying near a fire can result in the pilot losing the visual cues needed to stabilise the helicopter As we move into summer, the nation’s aerial...
Close up of a section of a Boeing aircraft on a blue sky background

The tails of two aeroplanes

The good old bad old days The differences between general aviation and air transport aircraft may be vast, but both require airmanship for safe, efficient operation I...

Don’t tear your envelope

As a pilot, you have an envelope with your name on it – but you’ll never find it in your letterbox.  Like the conceptual envelope...
Airshow plane leaving a smoke trail on a blue sky background

Need to know before you go: a resource kit for...

When air shows take off again, will you have the knowledge and skills to get there by air? Kreisha Ballantyne has some important tips...
Aero illustration for feature article, 'Brutal departure', by Juanita Franzi

Brutal departure

The effects of years of organisational amnesia, imprecision and improvisation came to a head one terrible morning over Bass Strait Boeing 707-368C, A20-103, ‘Windsor 380’ Sea...
Large air tanker fighting a bushfire

Heat of battle – the new stresses on aerial firefighting

Operators of firefighting aircraft have to adapt to the emerging hazards of larger and more widespread fires In 2019–20 Australia burned in fires that stretched...
Image of a small plane flying out of dark clouds with some sunlight

When you know it should be no

If icing is forecast but your charter aircraft doesn’t have anti-icing equipment, what should you do if the chief pilot insists you ‘go up...
CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Pip Spence PSM

Both feet on the ground

CASA’s new CEO and Director of Aviation Safety (DAS) Pip Spence has a long history of observing and cooperating with the aviation sector. She...

Radio work: are you being heard?

An understanding of your audience and following correct radio rules will give you the best chance of being heard ‘You’re the voice, try and understand...
View of Coober Pedy from an aircraft

Outback tips – wisdom from the bush

What could possibly go wrong when a hobby pilot flies into the Outback after lockdown? Yes, many things! So here’s some great advice from...
Roulettes in formation

Moment of truth

Years before becoming Roulette Seven, the non-flying member of the aerobatic team, Aimee Heal faced a serious incident with only a small number of...

Action, reaction and judgment: the rites of Spring

If you haven’t been flying much over Winter, here are some tips to avoid an embarrassing landing, particularly loss of directional control on the...
Pilots in cockpit

The gust lock at Osnabrück

When German investigators analysed what appeared to be a straightforward error by a first officer, they discovered a web of human, organisational and mechanical...
Illustration of small aircraft flying towards valley

The lost boys

The deaths of a low-hours pilot and his passenger in a wilderness less than 90 km from Bankstown Airport involved much more than youthful misadventure If...
People with a drone

What Donny taught me about drones

Pilots’ core skills are transferrable across the entire sector of aviation Many years ago, I was sent on a helicopter flight for an article about...
Small aircraft slipping through the net

Slipping through the net

This VFR-into-IMC accident, like many others, was the Swiss cheese variety, with multiple factors lining up to produce a familiar result Ten years ago, I...
Aircraft instrument panel

The deadly EPR

John Laming on the dangers of incorrect instrument readings during take-off Your first instructor may have told you to keep an eye on the engine...
Photo of Matt Bouttell

All wingspans, great and small

Over three decades Matt Bouttell has viewed aviation from the maintenance hangar, the dispatch office, the regulator’s ‘ivory tower’ and the cockpit. What struck...
modified image of 28-seat S61L helicopter

Turning and burning

A helicopter that pitched over on the roof of a skyscraper, killing 5 people, had been subject to stresses caused by the cost-cutting practice...

I do declare – the emergency mindset

Once realising you are in an emergency condition, it’s easier to focus on decisions that help you safely land I learnt a lot about flying...
Illustration: silhouette of sea plane over Sydney Skyline

The stealthy assassin

An insidious enemy that brought down a tourist seaplane on New Year’s Eve 2017 lurks in every piston-engine aircraft The operator was a well-regarded organisation...

Long COVID: the stress of unending crisis

The psychological effects of global aviation’s unprecedented shutdown are emerging, as are strategies for dealing with them There are contrails again in skies that went...

Daydream believer

The good old bad old days Dreaming and doing are not as different as they seem: the link is mental practice by Robert L Cassidy Would you...

Cloud of uncertainty

By Robert Wilson The enduring lesson from this 90-year-old tragedy is most unsettling ‘O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, Consider Phlebas, who...

High stakes: safety in private spaceflight

Commercial space launches require a high-level commitment to safe operations, in every sense By Robert Wilson Counting down again For once the journalistic cliché is accurate –...

Forewarned is forearmed

Reconnaissance means different things to different sectors but the aim is the same – the reduction of risk By Angela Stevenson Tactical reconnaissance is primarily...

The Merlin’s apprentice

On a dark night, a pilot begins an unnecessary fight with the helicopter’s autopilot, and loses By Brendan Reinhardt In the Disney film Fantasia, Mickey...

VFR and visible

A relatively inexpensive unit will help VFR pilots to ‘be seen and avoid’ By Kreisha Ballantyne Aviate, navigate, communicate. Power plus attitude equals performance. See, be...

Total recall

If not for an experienced engineer’s long and detailed memory, a serious in-flight incident might have remained a mystery By Robert Wilson It’s something not meant...

Quantifying the go-around

Go-arounds should be a routine exercise for pilots, but getting them right needs practice By Thomas P Turner When do you fly a go-around? If you’re...

Jumping in the deep end

The pilot was overloaded and inexperienced – but this tragedy was also an organisational failure by the operator By Nick Stobie It’s a shocking sight –...

Legends of the stall

Simulators are changing to test pilots in more extreme situations By Ross Peake The flight crew went to their deaths not quite knowing what was happening,...

Painting up a storm

John Laming on weather radar and its modern low-cost imitator, the electronic flight bag (EFB) Number 34 Squadron at Canberra operated two Convair 440 Metropolitan...

Ghosts in the machine

Accident investigation has embraced the digital age with cameras, phones and tracking systems as witnesses A seaplane carrying tourists dives into a narrow bay, a...

An alpine tragedy

The report into the crash of a historic aircraft in Switzerland in 2018 tells the story of an operator where safety standards drifted. It...

Midnight special

A sudden, strong and uncommanded pitch up immediately after take-off could have destroyed this airliner. Airmanship, teamwork and expertise stopped that from happening. By...

Down-to-earth wisdom

An airline captain makes a coronavirus career change to drones and discovers his training in human factors and non-technical skills is just as valuable on...

Passengers behaving badly

What causes some passengers to behave badly and what is the flow-on effect for aviation safety? By Pamela Tomlinson We’ve all heard about them and some...

Getting ready to go remote

Planning a flight into a remote area this summer? Proceed with caution, lots of planning and with enough equipment to survive any misadventure. By Nick...

Summer accommodation

When flying in summer, be extra cautious about calculating density altitude and keeping well away from storms By Thomas P Turner I fly out of 3600-foot...

Confidence interval

We take a look at how pilots can maintain their professionalism while grounded during the pandemic By Kreisha Ballantyne While this year has certainly been the...

Waking up grumpy

When it’s time to fly again, make sure your aircraft doesn’t become part of this year’s aviation nightmare By Robert Wilson As if air transport didn’t...

Drone registration and operator accreditation

With more drones in Australian skies, mandatory drone registration and operator accreditation are on the way to help make flying safer and more enjoyable...

Engineering reality

Margo Marchbank examines how virtual reality technology can help in the workshop A giant turbofan engine hangs suspended in space, seemingly defying the laws...

Qantas: the safety story

Over its 100 years Qantas has acquired an enviable reputation for safe operation. It has not lost an aircraft since 1960 and not had...

The very best intentions

Avro Lincoln, Mk 31, A73-64 Mt Superbus, Qld 4.14 am, 9 April 1955 A sick baby, a tired crew, a mountain waiting in the mist Ten years of...

Soft failures, hard landings

Flight test reports tell eloquently of the new capabilities—and new challenges—electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft will bring Whether manned or unmanned, electric vertical take-off...

Flight in marginal weather

Scud running implies an intentionally hazardous flirtation with visual flight in near (or actual) instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), a clear no-go. But what of...

The old man and the sea

The experienced captain made an inexplicable decision to embark on a long overwater flight with a sick engine. About lunchtime, the young first officer found...
The heat is on. Avalon explosion

The heat is on

As we approach summer, it is time to consider the effect heat has on helicopter performance. The 80s song ‘The Heat Is On’ was...

Pilot attitudes: finding balance in the force(s)

Can the so-called ‘hazardous pilot attitudes’ be managed to make flying safer? CASA does not make specific reference to what might be considered ‘hazardous pilot...

Intersection of factors

A runway incursion at Perth Airport reveals how easily the delicate equilibrium of forces, factors and fallibility behind safe operations can be upset It’s no...

A new start

The story of a warbird’s starter motor replacement illustrates the challenges and subtleties of keeping vintage aircraft safely in service. In the northern Riverina of...

Send in the clowns: when not to fly

How do you judge when it’s better to stay on the ground? Of all the aviation clichés in the world, my very favourite is, ‘It’s...

Whatever next? Crisis becomes normal

The aviation industry has undergone a tectonic shift during the pandemic and flight crews are seeing their careers abruptly on hold. In what form...

Russian roulette

A harmless but disturbing incident highlights how complex systems and procedures can be vulnerable to the effects of misunderstanding and miscommunication. The worst thing that...

In the bleak midwinter

Monarch Airlines flight OB301 Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain Young, NSW Friday 11 June 1993 The destruction of a regional airliner 27 years ago revealed widespread shortcomings at the...

Reality bites

Situational awareness, distraction and landing fixation are the themes of three chilling anecdotes. We are all human, so ask yourself: ’would I have done...

Virtual reality in cabin crew training

By Patricia Green The truth that dares not speak its name in airline travel is that the polite, well-groomed and urbane person serving your food...

Speedy surveys—faster and safer

Amy Steiger isn’t your typical drone operator. By Dragica Barac She says she fell into the role through a career development scholarship and good timing. Working for...

Dimness by daylight

The cockpit modifications required for using night-vision goggles can lead to misreading of important warning lights. By Brendan Reinhardt The helicopter pilot settles into cruise on...

The art of organisation

Kreisha Ballantyne makes no secret of the fact that she was an ill-equipped student pilot. Having no pilots in my family, no technical or mechanical...

How old is too old?

Kreisha Ballantyne looks at the factors facing older pilots when learning to fly. As the population of the developed world experiences longer life expectancy, the...

In command: Doing things right

Much of what you read in articles about flying safely revolve around aircraft crashes. We most assuredly must learn the lessons those who have...

Missing the message

How do you find the vital pre-flight information you need when it’s buried deep in a stream of NOTAMs? This frustration, felt by pilots...

Making excellence possible: the role of safety culture

Like air itself, culture surrounds aviation. But while you need to wait for good weather, you can create a safe culture Was it just a...

An ill wind: COVID-19 and aviation

Full-stop landing Suddenly everything stopped. There have never been months like March and April 2020 in the history of aviation. Previous world crises such as...
Photograph of Steve Davis

SMS: help or headache?

Many operators in the aviation sector regard the concept of a safety management system (SMS) as just one more headache for their company, another...

Battling your inner demons

Managing mental health issues in aviation is challenging, for pilots and managers By Adrian Park As professionals we have plans and systems for pretty much everything,...

Death in the afternoon

The story of Australia’s first civilian turboprop crash shows how much investigation and analysis have evolved since the 1950s By Robert Wilson Three o’clock is either...
abstract big data background

Pick a number: big data, artificial intelligence and aviation

Making sense of the next step change in safety By Robert Wilson Airline transport faces an enviable problem: how does it improve an already impressive safety...

Pay attention—to save yourself

What does it take to stop a passenger reading their newspaper or talking so they can listen to the pre-flight safety briefing? By Patricia Green To...

Every which way but loose

The inherent instability of a helicopter means even an IFR-rated pilot may get into trouble in cloud By Brendan Reinhardt A typical accident report for...

Bird on the runway

Managing the ‘unmanageable’ By Margo Marchbank You’re flying a regular public transport (RPT) aircraft on final approach to a major Australian metropolitan airport when ATC...

Managing the risks of workplace fatigue

By Nick Stobie Line Pilot, Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations I’ve had the pleasure of flying for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Western Operations...
Cessna 172

Rudder, ailerons, stalls and spins

By Thomas P. Turner To recover from a stall, your instinct is to use ailerons to raise a dropped wing. But this could result in...

Safety in numbers

By Kreisha Ballantyne Joining an air safari will improve your skills—and the journey will be fun In October 2008, when I was a then-GFPT student...

A whole new bag of tricks

Over the last decade, electronic flight bags have revolutionised general aviation flight planning and put valuable safety features into the cockpits of light aircraft....

Plain speaking in the cockpit

A series of incidents at flying schools prompted a study into improving the dynamics between instructors and students. The workload is high when you are...

Standing up for safety

You’ll find them most weeknights, on their feet, in theatres, clubs or hangars, spreading safety messages that could save your life. Flight Safety Australia...

One fell swoop: the Canberra Hudson disaster

With the help of a historian who researched the subject over four decades, and a former politician turned award-winning writer, Flight Safety Australia re-examines...

Too tired to back off

By Adrian Park A captain overwhelmed by lack of sleep loses control of his aircraft On a late August afternoon in 1993, an approach to Runway...

The biggest myth in general aviation

By Nick Stobie Maintenance releases are a seemingly simple document, but does an endorsed defect automatically ground an aircraft? The underlying principle behind the maintenance release...

Checklists: why and how

By Thomas P. Turner We’re taught we should use checklists, but do we know why and how to use them? Air crash investigations frequently cite...
Inspector examining nosewheel of jet aircraft

Safety thirst

By Alwyn Brice Is there a failsafe way to instil the subject of safety into your workforce? Over the last two decades of editing industry...

Unclear and present danger

In this incident, ATC miscommunication and broader organisational factors almost led to the loss of 353 lives. By Margo Marchbank On 16 December 2016, EVA...
Screenshot the opening titles of the aerial mustering video

Crash of cultures: the challenge for aerial mustering

A look inside the hazard-rich world of mustering from the air reveals safety is improving. Chasing animals with helicopters, aeroplanes or gyrocopters is a distinctively...

The cloud spotter’s guide to safety

By Kreisha Ballantyne How do you tell clouds apart and, more importantly, which ones are dangerous? For pilots, clouds are more than a natural wonder—they also...

Drones—what’s next?

It is the year 2030 at a busy coastal international airport. From the top of the terminal building, commuter drones taxi incoming passengers to...

Minutes to midnight

Behind what appeared to be an open-and-shut case of human error was a set trap of human and technical factors that was ready to...

Just a little bit over

by Nick Stobie Almost all Australians are familiar with the Transport Accident Commission’s campaigns against drink driving. They’re prolific, confronting and by many metrics very...

Any one of us

by Thomas P. Turner I was in the right front seat of a Cessna twin en route from Cowra to Archerfield airport near Brisbane. After...

Polar opposites

Adrian Park looks at West Air Sweden flight 294, on 8 January 2016 The rapid and total destruction of a night freight jet is a...

Reprise: Night of the Comet

The first edition of Aviation Safety Digest in 1953 reported on the runway overrun of a de Havilland Comet 1 in Rome, the previous...

Pushing the boundaries

by Brendan Reinhardt A new mental model of pilot-induced oscillation brings insights that might help you stop it happening to you. A hard-working pilot drives home...

Knowledge is power—how understanding IFR can benefit a VFR pilot

by Kreisha Ballantyne In the late 19th century, a Polish ophthalmologist named L. L. Zamenhof created a universal second language called Esperanto. His goal was...

Matt Hall: Skill is not enough

The virtuoso pilot says natural talent or even thousands of hours are no substitute for knowledge, practice and discipline If aviation were music, Matt Hall...

What goes around

Flight Safety Australia looked at helicopter maintenance in this 2011 feature. The safety fundamentals are unchanged but the prices quoted in the story...

Situation deadly, but not serious

Saudia Flight 163 19 August 1980, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Lockheed L-1011 Tristar In-flight fire followed by successful landing Passengers: 287 Crew: 14 Survivors:...

Take-off accident—DH Comet at Rome

Excerpt from the original Aviation Safety Digest Number 1, 1953 Take-off accident—DH Comet at Rome on 26th October, 1952 (Accident No 7009) While taking off from...

When pigs fly: manners, airmanship and safety

‘You can take a pig and teach it to fly, but it will still be a pig.’ This golden comment, uttered to me by a...

Cabin crew: We’re human too

Cabin crew contributor Patricia Green points out that human factors and crew resource management are concepts that extend well beyond the flight deck Human factors...

Flight Safety Australia: back in print

Pilots, maintainers, engineers, ATCs and cabin crew have told us how nothing matches the ‘tea room factor’ of our renowned print edition – so...

Gravity’s judgement

The Clutha Pub, 169 Stockwell Street, Glasgow, Scotland 29 November 2013 For a helicopter pilot there are many bad situations, but this would have to be...

Resourceful United crew set example of airmanship

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of a crash that demonstrated beyond all doubt that crew resource management (CRM) is a lifesaving concept. On July 19,...

Safety in Numbers

Kreisha Ballantyne interviews formation team The Stooges to discover how specialist training can enhance flight safety Formation flying, along with aerobatics, is one of the...

Advanced training makes pilots better and safer

Contributor Paul Southwick advocates for a safe and enjoyable way to extend your left-seat skills and judgement Pilot safety is never an absolute. The best...

Apron strings

A safer ramp isn’t the stuff of fiction, reckons Alwyn Brice, but there is still a long way to go. When Nick Careen, IATA’s Vice...

Yaw in trouble: yaw control emergencies

If your helicopter starts spinning you will need to analyse, decide and act-quickly, Brendan Reinhardt writes. Even in the simulator a fully developed yaw control...

The strangely sleepy triumph of Alcock and Brown

Exactly 100 years ago tomorrow two pioneers became the first people to experience an aviation-related malady that has since affected millions and remains a...

Never trust a pilot who has gravy on their shirt

by Kreisha Ballantyne Many years ago, when I was a student pilot, I planned to rent an aircraft with a friend, a licensed ATPL, in...

Group captain

The pilot of Qantas flight 32 on the importance of teamwork in aviation Richard de Crespigny never achieved his youthful ambition to be a...

Enthusiasm for a cause

by Nicholas Stobie It’s a common trait amongst pilots. That beaming look on our faces when anyone starts talking about aircraft. It might fade a...

At the sharp end

In a matter of seconds, with incomplete information, a flight crew has to make a life-or-death decision  Ameristar flight 9363, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, 8 March...

SARTIMES and SARWATCHES–the cost of forgetting to cancel

Did you know that in 2018, over 30% of inadvertent search and rescue incidents were caused by a failure to cancel SARTIMEs and failure...
SG-38 Glider

On any take-off

by Thomas P. Turner Pilots justify the cost and complexity of twin-engine aeroplanes for many reasons—payload, speed and cabin size among them. But the primary...

It’s all in the mind!

Is to fly well to be mindful? * Kreisha Ballantyne explores whether there’s a place for the ancient art of mindfulness in today’s aviation culture. Last...

From the hangar to the runway

American Airlines flight 191, Chicago, 25 May 1979 Adrian Park analyses the deep roots of a disaster that happened forty years ago next month I don’t...

Australian search and rescue awards

Do you know a person, group or organisation in the aviation industry who should be recognised for their efforts? Do you know someone who’s...

Why safety systems are vital

by Kreisha Ballantyne I have a friend, a pilot with much more experience than I, who once shared some valuable advice after sitting in the...

The dollar drain—the reality of ground damage

The recurring nightmare that is ground damage doesn’t disappear when day dawns. But is anything being done to mitigate its effects? Alwyn Brice, who...

Human factors and the helicopter

US journalist Harry Reasoner was renowned for his way with words. Two paragraphs he wrote on helicopters in 1973 have hovered for many years...

In-cabin baggage—the story so far     

Sue Rice has worked in the aviation industry for 43 years and was operational cabin crew for 24 years. She has represented Australia at...

Revised resource kit on human factors reinforces safety culture

‘It’s a highlight of my career to be with the people at CASA to launch their new Human factors for pilots’ kit. It’s a...

Your one and only: mitigating the risk of engine failure in...

by Nicholas Stobie Every pilot flying twins remembers the mantra driven into them during their initial training: Maintain Control, Mixture Up, Pitch Up, Power Up,...
The sun rises over a flight line of C-130H Hercules in the early morning at the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio, as maintainers perform engine runs, Dec. 21, 2017. The 179th Airlift Wing is always on a mission to be the first choice to respond to state and federal missions with a trusted team of Airmen.

Graveyard Crash

The mission description in the accident investigation is delivered in the sterile prose so typical of the military … except for the last word: The...

Change in the air for drones

CASA is reviewing how it manages remotely piloted aircraft systems as the sector evolves and grows When Flight Safety Australia first discussed drones, the story...

The (Flight) Path Less Travelled

Have you ever wondered whether, if you had your chance to learn to fly all over again, you’d do it differently? Whether the benefit...

Aviation lessons from a rock ‘n’ roll tragedy

The music of Buddy Holly is everlasting, and so, unfortunately, is the type of aircraft crash that killed him. Sixty years ago, on 3 February...

Where are all the Women?

by Kreisha Ballantyne A father and son are driving along the motorway when they have a head-on collision with another vehicle. The father is killed...

Cracking the code: Aviation English

Analysis of the English used by aircrews and controllers shows that it is in some ways a separate language to that spoken on the...

The Last Day

MacRobertson Miller Airlines flight 1750, 31 December 1968 Much has changed over the 50 years since this crash, but the cultural factors behind it remain...

Big trip weather planning

Kreisha Ballantyne takes a look at big-trip planning, with a focus on weather resources. The time is approaching: the endless rain has finally ceased and...

Summer’s seen—and sometimes unseen—hazards

Summertime flying is usually quite attractive, but it brings a number of considerations for pilots. Several are mentioned frequently enough that pilots know about...

Weather to fly: the Top End

Northern Australia is a tempting yet tough environment for aviation, where a scattered population depends on aircraft in the way the people in the...
Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter

LTE: the cliff edge

Brendan Reinhardt looks at why every helicopter pilot needs to be wary of loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE) In aviation warning is a...

Be seen and be safer

A low-cost ADS-B system for VFR aircraft has the potential to reduce the ever-present threat of mid-air collision    It’s long been recognised that there...

One thing at a time: a brief history of the checklist

The pilot was known as extremely capable and meticulous, and ‘an officer and gentleman of truly great distinction’. At age 41, he was chief...

A Fine Balance

Kreisha Ballantyne looks at how to balance life and aviation I was at the peak of my career, being paid to fly high-performance single-engine aircraft...

Blocks and a chain in the sky

The technology behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin is being touted as the solution for managing safety-critical information in aviation. Can this idea fly? Open any information...

Hazards of the cabin

It’s where most injuries in commercial air transport happen, so cabin safety needs to be taken seriously, contributor Sue Rice writes. Just consider for a...

Bouncing, not breaking: resilience as the foundation of safety

An engine explodes, peppering the wings and fuselage of a wide-body airliner with turbine fragments propelled out of its core at Mach 2.6. Some...

Growth without discomfort

How do you build your skills as a pilot without putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk? First accept your limits and then train...

Seeing red: putting a stop to runway incursions

Red is a powerful colour. Over the centuries it has been associated with good fortune, passion, violence, defiance, political ideology—and danger. The colour red is...

Culture and the clock

Adrian Park reflects on the deep roots of a charter flight tragedy When I was a 23-year-old helicopter pilot in the military, with freshly pressed...

Take it personally

‘A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.’ Adam Smith How well do you know yourself?...

What drone is right for you?

Thinking of getting into droning? Wouldn’t mind spending some time flying an aircraft remotely? Is it as fun as it looks? What’s the best...

Evolution and opportunity

CASA is overhauling its regulations governing maintenance of aircraft engaged in private and aerial work operations. Any renovator, whether of a house, car or aircraft...

More than a ‘noisy tape measure’

Remotely piloted aircraft systems are adding speed and accuracy to aircraft accident investigation Use the words ‘drone’, ‘accident’ and ‘investigation’ in the same sentence and...

Can you stall a helicopter?

Contributor Brendan Reinhardt begins a series on what crews need to know about the distinctive aerodynamics of helicopters. For a start, they stall when flown at...

Introducing Mayday Fuel

Aviation English has borrowed from the French two important terms—Mayday, from venez m'aider, meaning ‘come and help me’, and Pan Pan (from panne, meaning a breakdown). Mayday,...

The brace position: what passengers need to know

It seems absurd that something as simple as changing your sitting posture in a vehicle travelling at up to 1200 km/h groundspeed could make...

Richard Collins: Setting the Standard

Contributor Thomas P. Turner reviews the career of a pilot and writer whose words influenced generations of aviation enthusiasts Richard L. Collins changed the face and style...

When it all just gelled

Adrian Park writes about a crew who rose to the challenge of a confounding fuel system problem ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. As...

Fright and Flight

Air transport is a unique consumer product: up to one-third of its consumers are afraid of it. Cabin crew readily accept that some members of...

Precisely to the point; the promise of satellite-based augmentation

An update to global navigation satellite systems will deliver considerable safety benefits—but you need to understand it to prevent dangerous misconceptions. For the future of...

Flying to distraction

There have been many light-bulb moments in the history of aviation. Unfortunately, some have been anything but inspirational. On 13 January 1969, the nose gear...

Fire and fury: The destruction of Piper Alpha

An oil platform disaster 30 years ago has grim, but abundant, parallels and lessons for aviation safety. The first sign that something was...

Bad day at Blackbushe

An idiom (not to be confused with ‘idiot’) can be a surprising source of street (and flight) wisdom. Idioms are ‘distinctive expressions whose meanings are...

Are you where you think you are?

‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.’ Henry David Thoreau The first part of working out you’re lost is actually admitting it....

Beware of the dogma

‘One should be able to control and manipulate experiences with an informed and intelligent mind.’ Sylvia Plath I make no secret of the fact that...

Inside knowledge: neuroscience and the future of aviation

Knowing how the machine works is widely accepted to be essential for safe flight. Recent developments in neuroscience mean this principle can now be...

Doctors in the skies

May 17 marked the 90th anniversary of a distinctive and remarkable Australian institution, the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Since 1928, it has provided a...

Communication threats and errors for air traffic control

The aviation industry largely relies on post-hoc investigation reports to further our understanding of incidents and accidents. However, it is also important to monitor...

Stratospheric odds

Adrian Park tells the story of a freak weather condition that tested a flight crew on a dark night We pilots would love a weather...


My introduction to the Cessna 210 was typical of the period. My employer, a physician, World War II B-17 co-pilot and certificated flight instructor...

A billion aircraft: the future of drones

If US futurist Thomas Frey is right, in only 12 years drones will be as ubiquitous as cars. Frey says there will be 1...

Lessons and illusions: the Great War & modern aviation

For Anzac Day Flight Safety Australia revisits our 2015 analysis of what has changed—or stayed the same—since aviation came of age in World War I. Over...

Discovery and distillation: sector safety risk profiling

The philosophy of sector safety risk profiling can be found in a 19th century quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s ‘iron chancellor’: ‘Only...

Medicine and history combine for the long haul

By the time you read this, a few hundred Australian travellers will be settling into the local timezone in London, and other European locations,...


The wild ride of a turboprop after discontinuing a landing approach raises issues of pilot experience, human performance and limitations, and cockpit design. The Shetland...

The future’s so bright (I gotta wear aviators)

Approach anyone at your local aero club breakfast fly-in and commence a conversation about flying in the 60s and 70s. You will most certainly...

When the moment comes

Adrian Park looks at the difference between success and near disaster. It’s called training. Every pilot wonders if they’ll have what it takes in an...

A bump in the night

An incredibly close call—technically an accident—happened 47 years ago at Sydney Airport At 9.29 pm on Friday 29 January 1971, the flight crew of a...

Single and loving it: making the turboprop transition

Thomas P. Turner describes how to lift your game to match the demands of the ultimate propeller-driven aeroplane type  Congratulations! You’re about to transition into...

A matter of time (plus speed, distance, weight and heat)

N-n-n-no time, no time, no time! Hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late. The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll  It was a touch...

All in your head

Virtual reality has much to offer aviation, with applications in training and simulation About half an hour into the flight you realise the weather is...

The importance of being humble

By Kreisha Ballantyne The humble person makes room for progress; the arrogant person believes they’re already there. Anyone who flies, regardless of aircraft type, has no...

Drone hotspots

Contributor and licensed remote pilot Craig Newlyn tracks down some places where drones and manned aircraft need to take particular care Drones are everywhere and...

Gliding through Summer

In the Summertime when the weather is hot You can stretch right up and touch the sky From In the Summertime by Ray Dorset, performed by...

The unanswered question

Cockpit voice recorder time stamp: 11:03:09 Sound of hiss. Sound of snap. Sound of thump. Sound of clap. Silence. See and avoid. It seems...

Down and out: the hazards of wake turbulence

An incident in January 2017 in which a Challenger business jet was severely damaged after flying into wake turbulence from a Sydney-bound Airbus A380...

Point it, call it, get it right

How Japanese railway theatre could make aviation safer There’s free entertainment on trains in Japan. Ride near the driver’s or conductor’s positions and you can...

The Unreachables are they unteachable?

By Kreisha Ballantyne Some years ago, when my pilot’s licence was still crisp and my headset new, I made a rookie mistake. Without a mentor...

Losing the PLOT

Partial power loss is a stealthy attacker that can kill you by degrading aircraft performance before you notice a problem, Thomas P. Turner writes. Partial...

Goodbye Jumbo: the legacy of the Boeing 747

It’s still being made, but becoming a rare sight on the massive Boeing production line in Everett, Washington state, US, as its near 50-year...

Navigating till the cows come home

Waikikamukau (pronounced why kick a moo cow) is the Kiwi equivalent of the Australian slang woop woop, meaning a vague, distant location. The paradox is...


From the vault