While I'll be the first to lament the state of modern pilot training, where many of the young CFI's are coming from inbred training curriculums designed to create CFI's for that school, I digress.
There are certian aspects of the PA38-112's stall and spin recovery that are troubling enough that the NTSB wants them retested.
- The production aircraft was NEVER tested in stall and spin recovery by the FAA, the preproduction prototype was, but significant changes were made.
- The FAA conducts surveys each year for aircraft utilization, using these numbers, this is right from the NTSB: Using lower- and upper-bound estimates of flight hours, the PA-38-112 accident rate ranged from 0.336 to 0.751 fatal stall/spin accidents per 100,000 flight hours, compared to 0.098 to 0.134 for the 150/152. The Board concludes that the PA-38 has been more likely to be involved in these kinds of accidents than the 150/152
PA38- 0.336 to 0.751 fatal stall/spin accidents per 100,000 flight-hours
C152/150- 0.098 to 0.134 fatal stall/spin accidents per 100,000 flight-hours
This is a SIGNIFICANT differance in accident rates.
- A Piper test pilot told the NTSB that stall recovery was "...totally unpredictable, one never knew in which direction they would roll-off, or to what degree, as the result of a stall." A second said that "...the airplanes were very unpredictable in a stall. Each airplane did not perform stalls the same from one flight to the other." These are brand new aircraft right off the line, not beat up flight school airplanes that are misrigged and full of hanger rash. A third test pilot, said that production aircraft were "nothing like the article certified [by the FAA] as far as stall characteristics are concerned." And that Piper test pilots who performed post-production flight tests were "shocked at the stall characteristics observed"
When a test pilot is telling you that the plane does not have predictable stall characteristics, THAT is a problem. There is NO record of the FAA ever testing production aircraft. They tested a single preproduction aircraft built in Vero Beach, all of the production aircraft were built in Lock Haven, PA after significant engineering changes were made to the structure of the wing.
And then there is this from the same letter:
In addition, the former Piper chief test pilot interviewed by Safety Board staff in January 1997 described a PA-38-112 "flat spin" that he experienced in 1983. He stated that during an intentional spin, after approximately 2 turns, the nose started to rise to a more level pitch attitude, the rotation rate increased, and the spin "went flat." He said that even with full recovery rudder and elevator control, the "flat" spin continued for at least two more turns; then the nose slowly dropped and rotation ceased. He described the experience as "frightening. I didn't think that it was going to recover."
In April 1991, an FAA inspector from the Rochester, New York, flight standards district office was administering a check ride to a flight instructor from a 14 CFR Part 141 flight school in a PA-38-112. The FAA inspector had about 13,500 flight hours and had served as an aerobatics instructor; he had reportedly performed numerous spins in at least 15 different airplanes, including many spins in the PA-38-112. As part of the required check ride maneuvers, the inspector asked the candidate to perform a 1-turn spin to the right at an altitude of 5,000 feet. The candidate placed the airplane into a spin; however, the nose began to rise and a flat spin developed.
According to the inspector, the candidate immediately attempted to recover from the spin using the recovery procedures described in the airplane flight manual, but the airplane continued to spin. The inspector then took control of the airplane and described moving the flight controls to maximum deflection with no response. In desperation, the inspector released his seat belt, pulled himself fully forward against the instrument panel, and instructed the other pilot to do the same (a maneuver which the inspector credits with saving their lives). After several more revolutions, the nose of the airplane dropped and a recovery was effected. Control of the airplane was regained less than 1,000 feet above the ground. After landing, the airplane was immediately inspected. No discrepancies were found and it was determined that the flight control rigging, weight and balance, and configuration of the airplane all complied with the airplane certification.
I'm not saying the Traumahawk is an unsafe airplane. I am saying I wouldn't want to stall one though below 3000', or spin one without a parachute and quick release doors.
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