Adverse Weather Conditions and Aviation

Brysen Packer Weather and Climate Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Introduction

Veteran commercial airline pilots and experienced military pilots have perished in crashes when adverse weather arises. it concerns the entire aviation industry. Adverse Weather Conditions Tragically. Sometimes. some pilots tend to underestimate the difficulties low ceilings or adverse weather systems can impose. or overestimate their piloting skills. I would stress that this happens especially when flying at night. when darkness can prejudice extra challenges. or by intense fog on a landing approach. This paper will discuss how weather conditions have often been a major factor in fatal aircraft crashes. My paper explains that this is because some of these pilots have not acquired sufficient practical or Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) experience to overcome the challenges imposed by overcast weather conditions in elevated terrain. such as low ceilings. and aft weather systems. . Many accidents in aviation are caused because of lack of weather knowledge and sufficient weather briefing. for weather forecasts are not always accurate and weather conditions can be much more severe or dangerous than they initially appear.I am a student pilot and majoring in aviation. so this issue is not only of concern to private pilots. especially in private and civil transport aviation. fatal crashes of this kind occur because the pilot finds himself in bad weather through no real fault of his own. icing.

” An examination of weather conditions along the path of the flight indicates that overcast cloud conditions were present in the area of Caribou Municipal Airport. 2002.NTSB Reports In order to demonstrate the role that weather conditions can have on aviation safety.” Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for this personal flight. a 5. but just as importantly. According to the NTSB (2002) the first flight under discussion took place on October 11. the pilot’s flight student expressed weather concerns before this leg of the flight. and the NTSB (2002) notes that the ceiling . Maine. between 2. “about 2038 eastern daylight time when a Cessna 182S.268-foot mountain located along the route of flight. N100TY. According to the NTSB (2002) he was worried.000 and 3.000 feet. for doing so serves to emphasize the importance of weather awareness and the need for caution when reduced visibility along the flight path is a distinct possibility. was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain near Brownville Junction. Katahdin. “about the marginal weather conditions. and ended in tragedy. examining two specific fights is in order. and told the pilot to watch out for Mt. The student pilot was also concerned because he knew the pilot liked to fly at ‘lower’ altitudes.

and it appears evident that the pilot was unable to see the higher elevation of the terrain he was approaching because of overcast cloud conditions and darkness. and came to rest at an elevation of approximately 2.575 feet mean sea level. crashed during a landing approach to the Dillant Hopkins Airport in Swanzey. for this flight ended in tragedy when an Embraer EMB-110-P1. Radar data indicates that the Cessna was flying at approximately 3.000 feet in the minutes before it struck “heavily wooded terrain.” This very low ceiling at this airport was inevitably a problem on final approach. N49BA. on an upslope of approximately 40 degrees. “1 statute mile of visibility and an overcast cloud layer at 100 feet.900 feet. operated by AirNow. The second flight in my discussion also demonstrates how weather conditions can contribute to aviation accidents. In such a situation fatal consequences can follow. .” The NTSB (2002) determined that mechanical problems did not contribute to this accident. According to the NTSB (2005) the weather conditions at the time of the accident at 2215 consisted of. the pilot may experience vertigo or he may not be able to react quickly enough to instrument readings.was around 1. New Hampshire. Inc. for cockpit awareness may be hindered.

so even if a pilot is experienced with instrument landings and has an up to date awareness of his altitude and course. ‘the left propeller speed control lever was in the ‘MAX RPM’ position. While this intense fog appears to be the primary cause of this accident.for an eyewitness interviewed by the NTSB (2005) reported that. The witness added that the weather at the time of the accident was ‘foggy’ and a law enforcement officer.’” That is very intense fog. the NTSB (2005) conducted an examination of the cockpit area engine control box.” Furthermore. “as the airplane continued towards the airport. it appears that the pilot may have been experiencing vertigo or was responding to some form of hindered judgment by applying full power to the left . it flew in and out of lowlying clouds.” Subsequently. who responded to the accident within 3 minutes. disorientation can ensue when heavy fog obscures visibility to fifteen feet during the critical phase of a landing approach. and the right power lever was in the ‘MIN’ position. stated that the weather at the airport was ‘so foggy that I could not see the flashing blue lights from my patrol car which was parked 15 feet from the accident site. “which revealed that the left power lever was in the ‘MAX’ position. and the right propeller speed control lever was in the ‘FEATHER’ position.

Maine. Conclusion . adverse weather factors appear to have been the fundamental cause of this accident. The reason for these power settings is difficult to interpret because they are certainly not normal for a landing approach. but the pilot might have believed he was yawing to the left or was in a left bank because the intense fog disoriented him to such an extent that he disregarded his instrument readings. succumb to vertigo. or make unfortunate decisions when bad weather and darkness combine to severely reduce visibility. In both cases. As with the crash of the Cessna near Brownville Junction.engine and feathering the prop of the right engine. Ultimately. Both of them were relatively experienced pilots. the pilots encountered severely reduced visibility conditions at night which they were unable to respond to effectively. but even veteran pilots with thousands of hours of flying experience can lose cockpit awareness. but it is evident that they were due to pilot misjudgment or vertigo because of the bad weather conditions he encountered. The abnormal power settings contributed to the crash. this accident seems to have been primarily caused by the low ceiling and heavy fog at Dillant Hopkins Airport.

When these two estimations occur in tandem.In conclusion. especially when they are encountered at night. some pilots underestimate the dangers presented by reduced visibility in adverse weather. Tragically. even the best pilots may be unable to avoid the consequences when bad weather and darkness combine to present overwhelming challenges. or overestimate their piloting skills. . for thousands of pilots have not acquired sufficient practical or IFR experience to overcome the challenges imposed by adverse weather conditions. weather conditions have been a contributing factor in many fatal aircraft crashes.

Washington D. “NTSB Report: NYC05FA042.C.C.Sources “NTSB Report: IAD03FA004.” National Transportation and Safety Board. .” National Transportation and Safety Board. Washington D.