Safety Considerations

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the most probable cause of mid-air collisions is the pilot failing to see and avoid other aircraft. When in the traffic, pilots must continue to scan for other aircraft and check blind spots caused by fixed aircraft structures, such as doorposts and wings. High-wing airplanes have restricted visibility above while low-wing airplanes have limited visibility below. The worst-case scenario is a lowwing airplane flying above a high-wing airplane. Banking from time to time can uncover blind spots. The pilot should also occasionally look to the rear of the airplane to check for other aircraft.

Figure 7-5. Location distribution of mid-air collisions in the airport traffic pattern.

Figure 7-5. Location distribution of mid-air collisions in the airport traffic pattern.

Figure 7-5 depicts the greatest threat area for mid-air collisions in the traffic pattern. Listed below are important facts regarding mid-air collisions:

  • Mid-air collisions generally occur during daylight hours; 56 percent of the accidents occur in the afternoon, 32 percent occur in the morning, and 2 percent occur at night, dusk, or dawn.
  • Most mid-air collisions occur under good visibility.
  • A mid-air collision is most likely to occur between two aircraft going in the same direction.
  • The majority of pilots involved in mid-air collisions are not on a flight plan.
  • Nearly all accidents occur at or near uncontrolled airports and at altitudes below 1,000 feet.
  • Pilots of all experience levels are involved in mid-air collisions.
 

The following are some important procedures that all pilots should be follow when flying in a traffic pattern or in the vicinity of an airport.

  • Tune and verify radio frequencies before entering the airport traffic area.
  • Report your position 10 miles out and listen for reports from other inbound traffic.
  • Report when you are entering downwind, turning downwind to base, and base to final. This is a good practice at a non-towered airport.
  • Descend to traffic pattern altitude before entering the pattern.
  • Maintain a constant visual scan for other aircraft.
  • Tune and monitor the correct Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) frequency.
  • Be aware that there may be aircraft in the pattern without radios.
  • Use exterior lights to improve the chances of being seen.