Episode 1

Published on:

22nd Jul 2022

Missing over the English Channel

On 2 April 2022 a light aircraft flying from England to France disappeared from radar over the English Channel.

Tragically both of the pilots on board and the aircraft haven't been found.

A few weeks later the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) published a Special Bulletin that set out the evidence that was available about this flight up until that point. In this episode we cover what is in the report and discuss the safety guidance that it includes for pilots.

More information about this incident:

AAIB Special Bulletin S1/2022 on Piper PA-28R-200-2, G-EGVA

Flying in cloud animation

Safety guidance and resources mentioned in this episode:

The Skyway Code

CAA Safety Sense leaflet 23 - Pilots - its your decision

CAA Safety Sense leaflet 21 - Ditching

Weather planning resources for pilots from the Met Office (including METARs and TAFs)


The Airspace and Safety Initiative


Voiceover 0:17

Welcome to the CAA Safety files podcast.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 0:29

Hello, and welcome to the Safety files podcast from the UK Civil Aviation Authority. I'm Nathan Lovett from the CAA Communications team. And this is where we look at occurrence, incident or accident reports that have been published throughout the different areas of the UK aviation industry. Each episode will focus on a different report. We'll talk about what can be learned from it, and also hear from experts who will cover the relevant safety guidance. So let's get started. In April this year, a light aircraft flying from England to France disappeared from radar over the English Channel. Tragically, both of the pilots on board and the aircraft haven't been found. A few weeks later in May, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (or AAIB) published a Special Bulletin that sets out the evidence that was available about this flight up until that point. In this episode we'll cover what is in the report and look at the safety guidance that it includes for pilots. I'm joined by Julian Firth from the AAIB. So Julian, thank you very much for joining us. Please can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background and experience?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 1:29

Julian Firth. I'm a Principal Inspector of air accidents at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch which is the UK's specialist safety investigation organisation for aviation accidents and serious incidents. I joined the branch 18 years ago. My background is as an engineer and as a commercial pilot. And as part of my role here I continue to fly commercial aircraft and general aviation.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 1:54

Thank you and you were the lead investigator for this incident? Is that correct?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 1:58

I'm the investigator in charge for the investigation involving G-EGVA the Piper Arrow that was lost over the Channel.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 2:05

So the AAIB has published this information as a special bulletin, and there'll be a final report to follow. Please can you tell us why special bulletins are issued?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 2:13

AAIB special bulletins are published to inform the aviation industry and the public of the general circumstances of accidents and serious incidents. And they contain facts which have been determined up to the time of issue. They are tentative and subject to change if additional evidence becomes available, but it's really to get that safety message or to get initial information out as soon as possible.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 2:32

So before we get into the details of what is in the bulletin, please can you give us an overview of this incident and what happened?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 2:37

G-EGVA, a Piper Cherokee Arrow was one of seven aircraft taking part in a club fly out from Wellsbourne Mountford to Le Touquet. There was a line of highly convective cloud forecast over their intended routes across the English Channel. This is where warm moist air rises and condenses into cloud as it cools, and if sufficiently active, this can lead to towering cumulus clouds and even thunderstorms. As they approached the middle of the channel, one of the pilots of Victor Alpha, which was operating under visual flight rules reported to London Information that they were in cloud which neither of them was qualified to fly in. Shortly after this transmission, the aircraft disappeared from radar and an extensive search of the area coordinated by the UK and French authorities was unable to find either the aircraft or the occupants. And from the evidence available at the time we issued our special bulletin, it appears that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.

The report includes information on the weather, both in terms of what was forecast that day, and also the actual conditions during the flight. Can you talk us through those two elements please?

The forecast and actual weather conditions were fairly similar. On the day there was a generally slack pressure pattern across the UK associated with high pressure and a convergence line lay from Dover straight through to Le Mans in France. This is a band of cloud that remains fairly stationary, and can produce large amounts of rain across a relatively small area. The conditions forecast were generally 40 kilometers visibility with scattered or broken cloud with a base between two and five thousand feet and there was going to be isolated patches of mist reducing visibility to about three thousand metres at times with a further risk of visibility reducing to two hundred metres in freezing fog until about 10 o'clock. Associated with that there would be scattered or broken cloud with a base between five hundred and a thousand feet lowering to the surface at times in fog. As they reached the South Coast and the English Channel, forecast there was similar in many respects, but generally better visibility reducing to five thousand metres in places and this would reduce further in heavy isolated showers of rain and snow and thunderstorms with hail, snow pellets severe icing and turbulence and the heavier showers were expected to be generated by cumulonimbus clouds with a base between about 15 hundred and three thousand feet and the freezing level was forecast to be between one and two thousand feet. So those are the forecast conditions. Roughly speaking, what we know now from satellite images are that between 8 and 930, there were small amounts of cloud across mainland southern England with clearer skies across the southeast. There was a band of cloud from through the Dover strait into northern France at eight o'clock, and that moves slightly west with some sharing activity indicated. The radar images very much back then up indicating that there was some quite heavy precipitation to the west of Le Touquet around nine o'clock.

The Bulletin mentions that as part of the investigation, the AAIB spoke with other pilots and passengers that were flying that day. What was learned from those conversations?

The AAIB interviewed the pilots and passengers of the other aircraft in the flyout after the accident. All the pilots reported encountering a line of cumulonimbus cloud in the middle of the channel. Four of the five other aircraft flying VFR route had been able to descend and find a gap to fly around it. And in images taken from one of these aircraft waterspouts can be seen descending from the base of cloud. Having flown past that weather the four aircraft continued normally to Le Touquet, returning to Wellesbourne later the same day. Those on board the last aircraft in the group initially tried to descend and fly around the weather, but decided they couldn't find a safe route and diverted instead to Shoreham and the pilot of an aircraft which flew under instrument flight rules to Le Touquet estimated the cloud tops to be at least eight thousand feet when he flew past the line of cumulus cloud at about 825.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 6:26

Thank you and what do we know about the pilots experience and training?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 6:29

Both pilots of Victor Alpha held a private pilot's licence with a valid single engine piston rating, and they'd completed the complex aircraft training required to fly the Piper Arrow. Now they both learned to fly at the flying club in '10. And since qualifying had flown together often. They'd taken part in club fly outs together before including to Le Touquet when typically one of them would fly the outbound leg and the other would fly the return. The right seat pilot held a night rating, but neither pilot held an instrument rating or IMC qualification. The left seat pilots logbook shows a total of 200 flying hours, and he'd flown twice previously in '22, once in Victor Alpha on 23 March for a little under an hour and also on 11 February for about half an hour in a Cessna one five two. He'd flown four flights in the previous year, totalling just over three and a half hours, including a recency flight with an instructor and he held a valid class two medical. The flying clubs records indicated that the right seat pilot had a total of one hundred and sixty seven flying hours and had flown two previous flights this year, totalling just under one and a half hours both in a Cessna one five two. He'd flown a total of 14 hours in '21 and held a class two medical also. The families of both the pilots reported that they were fit and well before the flight and well rested and passengers who had flown with them on a previous trip to Le Touquet said they'd briefly encountered cloud during that flight but had continued without incident.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 7:57

Thank you. So there's still a final report to come. But what are the findings set out in this special bulletin based on the evidence that is currently available?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 8:04

The evidence available to date indicates that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered a highly active cumulus cloud, which had been forecast although neither occupant was qualified to fly in IMC. It's likely that the aircraft was substantially damaged on impact with the sea

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 8:19

And has the AAIB investigated other accidents where flying in cloud has been a factor?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 8:23

Yes, the AAIB has investigated numerous accidents where control of an aircraft was lost after intentionally or unintentionally entering cloud or reduced visibility. The reports of all these can be found on our website. The CAA Safety Sense leaflet called 'Pilots. It's your decision', which contains advice on weather decision making, notes that more than three quarters of the pilots killed when they lost control in IMC were flying in instrument conditions without an instrument qualification. We know that disorientation can affect anyone, particularly those who have not been adequately trained to fly on instruments, or those who have been trained on instruments but don't keep in practice doing so. Planning is the key and the CAA Skyway Code contains further guidance on pre flight weather decision making, including guidance for avoiding loss of control caused by inadvertently flying into cloud.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 9:12

The bulletin also highlights guidance around the use of life jackets. Please can you talk through why that's included in the report?

Julian Firth (AAIB) 9:18

There was some video posted on social media from Victor Alpha in flight before the accident and this appears to show that both pilots were wearing their shoulder harnesses under their life jackets. This suggests that they secured their seat belts before donning the life jackets and when donning a life jacket after securing a seatbelt there is a risk of becoming entangled in the belt when trying to rapidly exit an aircraft in the event of an emergency. So the CAA Safety Sense leaflet on ditching contains guidance on the use of life jackets.

Nathan Lovett (CAA) 9:48

Thank you. So what are the next steps for this investigation?

Nathan Lovett 9:51

The AAIB investigation continues to examine operational technical and human factors which might have contributed to this accident. In the absence of additional wreckage, it may be that we're unable to draw further conclusions. But whatever we find the final report will be published as soon as possible to set out in public exactly what we know about the circumstances of this accident and to promote safety action to help stop it happening again.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

Thank you very much for joining us and talking us through the report.

Julian Firth (AAIB):

Thank you.


You're listening to the CAA safety files.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

We're now going to look at all of the safety guidance and information that is included for pilots in that AAIB report. Here to help explain everything is Ed Bellamy, who has been a general aviation pilot for over 15 years, and has flown 15 hundred hours on the 737 for a European airline. Ed is also the editor of the CAA Skyway Code, which is mentioned in that AAIB report and a columnist for Flyer magazine. He's currently working with the CAA on an updated suite of Safety Sense leaflets. Also joining us is Chris Mason, a flight standards officer in the CAA's General Aviation, and RPAS Unit, which stands for remotely piloted aircraft systems. Chris has been in aviation for over 35 years primarily in safety and security. His main role is investigating MORs, which are mandatory occurrence reports, along with alleged breaches of air navigation legislation and whistleblowing reports. He's co chair of the Infringement Coordination Group, focal point for the general aviation unit safety risk panel, and the General Aviation RPAS units just culture champion. So thanks to both of you for being here. And welcome. So the AAIB has recommended several pieces of guidance that are published by the CAA. And we're going to talk about each of those in turn. But before we do, why is the guidance about flying in clouds so important? Ed, can we start with you please? What are the potential risks that pilots need to be aware of?

Ed Bellamy:

Loss of control in IMC remains a significant cause of GA accidents. Historically, the UK seems to experience on average one or two such accidents each year that can be you know, attributed with a degree of certainty to this cause. And this trend has been fairly stable since at least the 1980s. And about 75% of the time, the pilot involved does not hold an instrument qualification of any kind. And it's not clear you know whether they entered intentionally or not, but the outcome is normally spatial disorientation and loss of control in a matter of minutes.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

The AAIB report includes some text from one of the CAA's Safety Sense leaflets, which says that anyone can be affected by disorientation which is why it's so important that if you're going to fly in clouds, you have the relevant training and qualifications. So please can you talk us through what these qualifications are? What do pilots need to have completed?

Ed Bellamy:

You need to have either an IMC rating or an instrument rating restricted as it would be on a Part FCL licence or the full instrument rating in order to be planning intentional flights in IMC. And the other important thing to remember is also you have to be current, you know, instrument flying is a very perishable skill, particularly the scan speed, you know, your scan speed or decay without practice, so even if you have a valid rating, you should really be asking yourself how proficient you really are at that moment in time.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

And when we talk about terms like current practice, which is mentioned in the report, what does that mean? Is there a way to quantify that?

Ed Bellamy:

It's quite hard to generalise it and it'll depend enormously on the experience of the pilot. As a very broad generalisation what I found is that with more experience and more hours, the longer you can typically go without that skill sort of decaying. But I would say if you're into heavy IMC flight, or potentially you should be doing it talking sort of several times a month, something like that. And if you don't feel confident undertaking a particular flight, well, you should have a clear concept of what's realistic for you at a particular moment in time because it might be that flying through a few relatively benign layers of stratus for 30 seconds at the beginning or end of the flight is perfectly reasonable. But drilling through clouds for hours on end, when there are lots of Cbs around is something you need to be a bit sharper for.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

Thanks. So we're going to start looking at the guidance now. Before even getting into the air. What are the things that people need to be doing to mitigate these risks in terms of pre flight planning, and being aware of the weather conditions? Chris, what does the guidance say here?

Chris Mason:

I think from a GA perspective, thorough pre flight planning is critical to ensure the safe continuation of the flights. Now when we talk about pre flight planning, we're talking about pilots having an awareness of the weather that they're going to anticipate on the routes now that can include a check on the surface pressure charts, the charts UK F214 and 215 significant weather charts, a check of the updated TAF terminal aerodrome forecast and the METAR the meteorological terminal air reports. They're critical especially even if you're flying over water and particularly, I'll give an example as the English Channel where the weather is notorious for being known to change rapidly and deteriorate rapidly and you've got to be able to calculate your altitudes. If they're forced below the weather and determine whether you will need to turn back or divert. So, having a plan B. So ensure that if you believe that you won't reach your destination airfield for any particular reason, then you have to have a suitable alternate. Now whether that's going to be turning back to where you came from, or having an alternate field, it's got to be suitable in terms having the fuel to reach there, the runways got to be of sufficient length and characteristics to take the aircraft type that you're in. And then of course, there's checking other things as well, the route itself making sure that if you're going to fly through controlled airspace that you have have the necessary authorisation to fly through such airspace and also a thorough check of the NOTAMs as well to make sure you're not going to be flying through any restricted areas. So all of this makes up the thorough pre flight planning to ensure that the flight can continue safely and without hopefully getting caught out by the weather if a full and updated weather check is undertaken.

Ed Bellamy:

I'd just add to that, that, particularly now that we're well into the summer, and you know, convective weather is becoming more common, you know, we'll probably start to see a few afternoon thunderstorms in the next few weeks, I would imagine. And convective weather can be a bit more difficult to forecast than perhaps the kind of frontal weather that we're more familiar with in the UK. And you'll probably see a lot of TAFs, for example, with quite wide windows of possibility and probabilities of the weather developing are rather indefinite. So it's just important to build as complete of a picture as possible. You know, the sig weather charts, certainly help in that regard. Also look out for AIRMETs and SIGMETs that might warn of thunderstorm activity. Cumulonimbus clouds can build and move very quickly. So it's important not to just look at the departure and the destination, you've got to look at multiple points along the route, rainfall, radar, and all the rest of it. The other thing I'd say is that we all know and love the Met Office weather service. But in reality, I know a lot of GA pilots use a whole plethora of different other sources of weather information these days, and there are too many to make any kind of definitive recommendations on but what I would say is find one that works for you, but also understand what the origin of that data that it's telling you is, for example, is it produced by a real forecast? Or is it derived from an algorithm or other extrapolated data? And if you're looking at a weather radar product, for example, you know, what's the time lag on it? You know, if you're planning a long flight, the forecast is likely to change considerably between your departure and destination. So, you know, how are you going to keep updated in that regard?

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

Excellent. Thank you, Chris, you mentioned the importance of preparing a 'plan B' in advance. What would you recommend people look at when they're doing that? How detailed to those get? And what type of contingency should people have in place?

Chris Mason:

Certainly, regarding a Plan B, it's always good to have that just for argument's sake, what happens when you're flying and for whatever reason, you have to change your route, whether there's an issue with the airspace or the weather suddenly deteriorates, and you find yourself having to change. These are decisions, which are better to make on the ground, when you haven't got to sort of have your threat and error management compromised in the air and you're having to sort of fumble around getting the chart out or maybe checking your VFR moving map and finding an alternative option. So if you have a plan B, that is part of your pre flight planning on the ground, then you've taken out what could impact on your threat and error management in the air. So it's good to have this on the ground. It's better to have this sorted out before you get in the air instead of having to troubleshoot the problem when you're in the air. So that's what I would say on that,

Ed Bellamy:

Particularly when you're planning a longer flight, always look at what the divert options might be. If you get halfway along and a wall of thunderstorms start building ahead of you or whatever, you know what are your options in that regard, because turning around and simply going back to your destination may not actually be the best one.

Another thing that I wanted to cover as part of this pre flight planning section was that the AAIB highlighted some guidance from one of the CAA Safety Sense leaflets that covers the use of life jackets, Ed please can you talk us through that?

The point the AAIB picked up on was really about the wearing of life jackets. So in a single engined aircraft, particularly a single engine piston aircraft, we always recommend that you don the life jacket prior to entering the aircraft and ensure that it's in no way entangled in the seatbelt. So you should have a clear order of actions to take to release the belt, egress from the aircraft, inflate the life jacket and all the rest of it. So that should be clear in your head and obviously brief your passengers the same as well.

Chris Mason:

You've actually touched on a very good point there in terms of certainly briefing the passengers as well, because as the pilot in command, you'll have that as part of your checks, if you end up in a situation that you are ditching, but certainly as part of your pre departure checks explain to the passengers, 'listen, we're going to be flying over an expanse of water, if the worst happens, then this is what we need to do. This is how you need to have your lifejackets on before we enter', have the seatbelts a certain way that they're not restricting the use of the lifejacket and certainly doesn't restrict you exiting the aircraft. That's a really important point if you're with passengers is making sure that they are fully briefed and fully understand what they need to do in the event of a ditching

Ed Bellamy:

it's an excellent leaflet in my opinion. I mean, I can say that I wasn't the original author, but particularly now that travel restrictions are thankfully largely a thing of the past, I get the impression far more GA pilots are looking to cross the Channel. And there's a whole host of considerations for doing so even during the summer, you know, what's the sea state doing? Because that will potentially have an impact if the worst happens on how survivable the ditching might be, you know, should I carry a raft? what's the best ditching technique all that sort of thing.

Chris Mason:

It is an excellent leaflet, I must agree in and it doesn't mirror in terms of the PPL training syllabus, which covers all of the ditching process as well, in terms of understanding the swell, understanding the conditions of the sea, and how you should ditch and so on. So, it is an excellent leaflet and very informative.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

We're going to move into the guidance relating to the flight itself. Is it fair to say that in terms of flying in cloud, there are two scenarios, some pilots will have made a choice to fly into cloud, while others can enter cloud without intending to? If that's correct, can we cover each of those scenarios in turn, please. So for pilots that do fly into cloud intentionally, we've covered the importance of having the relevant training and qualifications. But is there anything else that people need to be aware of here?

Ed Bellamy:

It's really important to understand that even instrument rated pilots have to consider the weather extensively before each flight and its certainly by no means a licence to enter any clouds safely anywhere in any circumstances. Some clouds as, we'll go on to, are best avoided, particularly if they're tall kind of fluffy cumulonimbus ones. Ice of course is a major consideration for flight under IFR. So part of the discipline of flying IFR is about having that kind of deeper understanding of the weather, its not just about blindly sort of flying in clouds or sitting, you know, in clouds for hours on end. In fact, a lot of it is about planning to reduce your exposure to IMC as much as possible. So it's very much about preparation and having a plan B and all that good stuff that we've been talking about so far.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

And for those situations where a pilot may inadvertently enter cloud, what's the message there?

Ed Bellamy:

Well, I know this sounds obvious, but particularly when we're dealing with more convective clouds that have greater vertical development and probably have showers and lightning and thunder associated with them. The basic message is stay away from them. Even airliners go to a lot of effort to avoid a CBs since they will give you a rough ride. A fully developed Cb can be identified by a kind of tall pillar of cloud, often with a kind of expanding anvil shape protruding at the top. So obviously, the message generally, regardless of the cloud, for those who are not qualified is to avoid doing so. But I would emphasise that, particularly when we're talking about convective weather that maintaining control will be especially hard inside because you will be likely exposed to extensive updrafts and downdrafts, the airspeed will likely fluctuate considerably. And in fact, even a qualified instrument rated pilot may struggle to maintain control, let alone one who has no formal instrument training. I'd add that the dangers are also generally extensively covered in the instrument rating syllabus. So VFR pilots may not be fully appraised of the danger. I know, some might think it's okay to occasionally punch through a kind of thin stratus layer or an isolated cumulus cloud. But, you know, the big convective clouds are a different ballgame. So you should do your utmost to avoid entering them.

Chris Mason:

And I would just add to that, when I did my PPL training, I was just instructed to avoid cloud at all cost, and remain in sight of the ground at all times. So basically, stay as per visual flight rules. The bottom line is if you are not qualified to fly in the cloud, then avoid them as best as you can.

Ed Bellamy:

When faced with, for example, a line of building cumulonimbus clouds, the best thing to do is to go around them or turn back. Certainly flying under them is not recommended, since there may be showers and downdrafts. Flying between them, you might be okay but you should only really do that if they're at least several miles apart, and there is an obvious path to clear air beyond. It's highly unlikely you'll be able to out climb them. You know, CBs over Europe regularly reach a height of well over 30,000 feet. And by going around, I mean, avoid by several miles, don't just skim the edges, since there will likely be turbulence and try to go upwind, since this will reduce the likelihood of turbulence because if you go downwind of the kind of the line of clouds, you're more likely to get the kind of downwind turbulence associated with that.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

One of the things mentioned during the planning for this episode was the importance of making a quick and decisive decision to exit cloud. Please can you cover that for us?

Ed Bellamy:

Well, one thing I'd say is that perhaps even before that kind of point of entry has occurred, because quite often, what happens is that people kind of get sucked into these situations, right? So they might see a bit of cloud up ahead, they might carry on and they're maybe not actually physically in the cloud yet. But they're still entering a kind of a less comfortable situation. And certainly, that's the point that you need to be taking decisive action. And if you are starting to feel boxed in, air traffic control may be able to help. I've had several occasions in my own flying years ago in light aircraft, perhaps over France, for example, where I ended up diverting miles off course to avoid thunderstorms. And you know, ATC did their best to kind of keep me appraised of airspace and danger areas. And one thing that I distinctly remember from that is that, you know, I had a lot of this information on my GPS, it wasn't quite a moving map in those days. But in the kind of stress of the moment, taking up a heading kind of away from danger was actually about as much as I could manage and telling ATC kind of what you're doing. And, you know, letting them take some of the workload off really, really helped.

Chris Mason:

That's actually a really good point in terms of employing ATC to assist because again, it's all linked to the threat and error management that you're not getting stressed or getting overworked by the situation. ATC are there to provide a service and assist, particularly in situations like this. If you find that you're flying through cloud, you don't want to descend beneath it because there could be rain, there's also the risk of terrain collision. And also, you don't obviously want to climb above it because you lose sight of the ground. Then there's also the possibility of infringing the base of controlled airspace above. So certainly the safer option is to fly maybe miles out of the way. But just to make sure that you fly out of the way to somewhere that's safer

Ed Bellamy:

I think that's probably the key message, Nathan, is that by the time you're actually in the cloud, things are potentially too late. And you know, you really want to be taking that decisive action a few minutes ahead. It's all about recognising when the situation is starting to go pear shaped, and when you need to take a different course of action. I mean, again, another personal anecdote, I remember once again, this was over France, I was over the Massif Central somewhere, it was getting dark. There were CBs everywhere, and I was sitting in my little PA 28. And I remember discussing the situation with ATC, and they recommended an airfield a few miles away that I landed at and minutes later, you know, the heavens opened and there was thunder and lightning everywhere. But that old adage about being down there on the ground was you know, and I certainly wasn't going anywhere for that night. If you do end up in cloud, and particularly if it's a convective cloud. I know if despite everything that does happen. I know, in the PPL training, we generally recommend the 180 degree turn to you know, vacate the cloud back the where you came. I'd say if you're in a significantly turbulent cloud, you may find control of the aircraft challenging and I would certainly focus initially on simply retaining control, staying straight and level before making any turns. Focus on the aircraft's attitude indicator, and keeping the wings level. Don't chase the altitude and speed, you know, the aircraft will probably want to rise and fall, but it's far more important that it stays within the flight envelope than maintaining a particular altitude and getting into extreme pitch changes. If possible, stay below the aircraft's maneuvering speed i.e. VA since this will reduce the likelihood of structural damage. It's difficult to generalise on the best course of action. But obviously every situation is different. If you came from good weather behind you then obviously turning around if you feel you can do so safely then do. Unless you're in imminent danger of terrain, I wouldn't recommend climbing because you're unlikely to have the performance to do so unless you happen to know that the cloud is only 500 feet thick above you then staying where you are altitude wise is probably better than going up or down into a further unknown.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

And where can people find more information on this?

Chris Mason:

The Safety Sense leaflets are very, very informative and very useful. The Skyway Code, there's also a web portal called Skybrary, which is very useful as well. And again, that gives a wealth of information about not only just general aviation, but also commercial aviation as well the different issues that can be encountered there. There's also the Air and Safety Initiative web link, I'll admit that is primarily focused on the infringement side of things, but there is guidance on the periphery, which is related to it in terms of airspace, weather avoidance, and so on. Off the top of my head thery're the four that I would like to certainly recommend,

Ed Bellamy:

I don't really have much to add to that, Chris. Actually, obviously, I'm a great believer in the Skyway Code. There are several pages from page 29 onwards that kind of go over the basics of weather planning meterology, there are also a little bit further on about kind of common risk areas for GA and strategies for mitigating them.

Nathan Lovett (CAA):

Thank you both for taking us through that guidance. We're including links in the episode notes to all of the resources and information that Ed and Chris have been talking about. Alongside those you'll find a link to an animation that provides guidance on flying in cloud. Thanks again also to Julian Firth from the AAIB for speaking with us about the special bulletin that they've published. You'll find a link to that report in the episode notes too. So that's it for this episode but if you have any comments, questions or suggestions for subjects that you would like us to cover in future episodes then please email us at safetyfilespodcast@caa.co.uk Thanks for listening and see you next time


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CAA Safety files
This series looks at occurrence, incident or accident reports that have been published throughout the different areas of the UK aviation industry.

Each episode will focus on a different report. We'll talk about what can be learned from it, and also hear from experts who will cover the relevant safety guidance.

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UK Civil Aviation Authority .

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