Essay on Controlled Flight Into Terrain

Words: 3533
Pages: 15

The aviation community generally defines CFIT as "…any collision with land or water in which there was no detectable mechanical or equipment failure, where the pilot was in control of the aircraft but lost situational awareness and flew into terrain." (Bensyl, Moran, Conway, 2001, pg 1037) According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), CFIT can be caused by many factors. Nevertheless, it is primarily caused when a pilot or flight crew is unaware that a dangerous situation exists. Problems such as bad weather, information overload, instrument confusion, night flight, poor air traffic control communications, or malfunctioning ground
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"The pilot has gradually become barricaded from the reality of the flight task by an array of automated systems and is often swamped by the complexity of surrounding systems. Great effort has been made to control, filter and display the vast quantities of data related to the aircraft, its systems and the environment, at the same time as maintaining the ‘visibility' of aircraft, system and environmental state." (Noyes, Kazem, Phyo, 2000, pg 679-680) Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS)
There are different systems used in the detection of terrain avoidance, one such system is the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). In the mid-1970s, the introduction of the GPWS into aircraft belonging to major U.S. airlines significantly reduced CFIT accidents among large passenger carriers. These reductions can be directly attributed to the FAA's mandate in 1974 that required the GPWS be installed in all major passenger aircraft in the United States. Unfortunately, the GPWS uses an aircraft's radar altimeter, which is only able to determine the airplane's vertical height from the ground. This inability of the GPWS to see ahead of the aircraft drastically reduces a pilot's warning of a potentially dangerous obstruction and often does not allow enough time for the pilot to decide upon an appropriate corrective action.
In 1996,