POSITIVE CONTROL CHECKS

With the recent accident involving the Genesis in Nevada itís time for a serious discussion about positive control checks. Iíve been thinking about this article ever since the day I heard about the Genesis accident. Iím sure many others have been thinking about the same thing. While there has been no definite conclusion as to the cause of the Genesis accident, many believe at this time that a positive control check would have prevented the accident.

John Murray, in particular, has come up with a great idea concerning how we, as a soaring community, can take a proactive position in helping all soaring pilots with positive control checks. With Johnís permission I want to share his idea with you. First, let us all agree that every year there are those of us who think we are ready to fly and have not, for whatever reason(s), performed a positive control check. Iím willing to bet that there is at least one accident every year that is the direct result of an omission of a positive control check. As careful as we try to be, we are forgetting this check. Johnís idea is simple, yet it seems to me to be foolproof. A positive control check should be performed by a line person either on the line or right before the sailplane is pulled onto the field. This check should be done an EVERY sailplane assembled that day.

Now letís discuss the idea. This positive control check by the line person will in no way change the fact that the PIC is 100% responsible for the pre-flighting of his/her sailplane. In theory, it would be simply a repetition (second positive control check) of the positive control check already performed by the sailplane pilot. So responsibility and liability are still with the pilot. In theory it is redundant. However, redundancy in safety checks is not a new concept in aviation. It increases the safety margin.

The positive control check by the line person would not be optional. The line person would not ask, "Do you want a positive control check?" but rather, "How do you want to do the positive control check?", or just begin by going to the left aileron. No check, no fly! Itís that simple.

This system would need to be implemented at contests, commercial operations, and at clubs.

The contest level would be the easiest place to implement this new check and it should be done as soon as possible. The clubs and commercial operations will have to embrace the idea for it to work. Certainly there will be a little more time required on the line. Will it take another person? Of course it wonít. However, the advantages are immense. If a club or commercial operation can avoid just one accident and all the bad press that goes with an accident they will be both emotionally and financially way ahead.

The only question left is, are we our brothers keeper? Do we want to go out of our way to help one of our own who may have made a mistake that we can correct before it becomes a major problem? Is the additional hassle worth it? Is it worth our effort to implement a new concept? For me the answer to each question is absolutely yes! I would hope that each of you has the same response. How could you not? Start this new line person positive control check system now. It could save the life of your friend or even your own. If anyone sees a negative to this concept please let me know.

Again, I want to thank John Murray for bringing this simple yet effective safety concept to my attention.

Fly Safely,

Frank Reid