The release of Starved and Exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents, the latest in the Avoidable Accidents series of safety booklets, has received a positive reception, with broad distribution to flying schools, aero clubs, and many aviation operators. 'We're extremely enthusiastic about this series,' says Dr Stuart Godley, the manager of the ATSB's Research Investigations and Data Analysis. 'It's designed to be an accessible and useful safety resource, and we're happy that the booklets are being read by pilots and instructors.'
The Avoidable Accidents booklets each focus on a type of accident. 'We're looking at very specific types of accidents for these publications,' explains Dr Godley. 'These are accidents which happen, not because of some random occurrence, but because of individual actions. We're not saying that these accidents took place because of recklessness or incompetence, far from it. They're decisions, planning and preparation, risk taking, and sometimes actions or inactions that don't automatically stand out as dangerous, that one might take for granted, but which have resulted in accidents. Becoming aware of how such behaviours have led to accidents will hopefully guard you against making the same mistakes. It's very much a case of "forewarned is forearmed".'
The ATSB receives thousands of notifications every year. Although only some of the occurrences get formally investigated, all of the information is retained in the ATSB's database, drawing a vast and detailed portrait of aviation safety in Australia. Inevitably, patterns emerge. 'We have an ongoing program of monitoring trends,' explains Godley, 'and we identify the accidents which keep repeating themselves. These are the perfect topics for this series.'
Each booklet is short, and to the point, and focused on giving readers useful information. It includes case studies describing how different pilots, of all ranges of experience, have, through different routes, ended up in the same types of accidents. 'When hearing about an individual accident, some pilots have the impulse to say "oh, they ran out of fuel, well, that's dangerous, I won't do that",' says Dr Godley, 'but there are many different ways that these problems can arise, and it's not always a case of the obvious mistake.' The booklets describe the various chains of events that have led to accidents, and then gives ways that pilots can avoid suffering these accidents. 'In these booklets, it's not just describing accidents. Every accident has a lesson, and these lessons learned are drawn out to help other pilots.'
And how long will the series be? How many booklets will the ATSB produce?
'It's an ongoing series,' says Dr Godley. 'We'll keep expanding it until we run out of topics. These are timeless publications, focussing on problems that have been recurring for a long time. Hitting wires, flying into cloud, these are accidents that have been happening for 90 years, practically since the beginning of aviation, and they're accidents that pilots can prevent from happening. No matter how good the training and how advanced the aircraft, people keep having the same accidents. They have been called 'avoidable accidents' because they are accidents that didn't have to happen. As a pilot, you have a lot of control of making sure they don't happen to you.'
'These booklets would be useful to any pilot, from a first-time student in a flying school to an experienced pilot who's flying professionally. We're eager to share them. We think they're a valuable resource, that is free.'
The Avoidable Accident series is available online
via the ATSB website, alternativly the ATSB will gladly provide free copies of the Avoidable Accidents series to anyone who would like them. Please send requests via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephone 1800 020 616 for further informaion.