A turbine-powered mannequin plane suffered a lack of management throughout its maiden check flight.
It continued to fly past visible line of sight earlier than crashing on a railway observe and was subsequently run over by a passing prepare. Security actions taken because of this accident embrace the publication of enhanced steerage for members by the British Mannequin Flying Affiliation (BMFA). The mannequin flying membership additionally amended its procedures regarding flying turbine-powered fashions.
Historical past of the flight
The F4 Scale Phantom is a 1:10 scale flying mannequin of the McDonnel Douglas F4 Phantom jet plane. It has a takeoff mass of 6.4 kg and is powered by a turbine engine utilizing kerosene.
The recently-built mannequin plane was present process its first check flight. Pre-flight preparation had included an impartial verify of the management floor sense and deflections, in addition to vary checks between the transmitter (on the controller) and the receiver (on the plane), from a number of angles.
A standard takeoff was carried out to a top of roughly 200 ft agl, for a flight that predominantly comprised of left-hand‘ race-track circuits.’ In the course of the flight the pilot famous that the aileron response was “sluggish”, however he thought of it enough for protected flight. He subsequently famous that up elevator was required to take care of degree flight and progressively utilized ‘up’ trim. Throughout a 180º downwind flip, the plane instantly veered to the fitting placing it on a northwest heading.
Regardless of the pilot making use of corrective aileron inputs, the plane didn’t reply and management was misplaced. It subsequently stalled, entered a spin and disappeared out of visible line of sight beneath a tree line.
The mannequin plane was later discovered to have come to relaxation on a railway observe adjoining to the airfield, near a pedestrian crossing, and was subsequently run over by a passing prepare.
The wreckage was recovered by the pilot and different membership members. There have been no accidents or injury to property. The mannequin plane was destroyed.
The pilot thought of that he had let the airspeed drop too low whereas concentrating on making use of corrective elevator trim.
The mannequin flying membership is predicated at Kenyon Corridor Farm Airstrip, which is an unlicensed airfield with a grass Runway 05/23 for full-size plane. There are two runways for mannequin flying, a 75 m strip adjoining and parallel to 05/23 and a 110 m strip, which runs in an east-west route. A railway observe passes to the north of the location. There are a number of public footpaths which run alongside the north-west boundary of the airfield, and within the space between the airfield and railway observe
The mannequin flying membership was affiliated with the BMFA. The membership procedures contained an airfield diagram depicting the accredited overfly zone (Determine 2) and suggested that members ought to ‘keep away from flying at distance’ within the route of the railway observe.
The procedures referred to the varied footpaths within the neighborhood of the airfield. Relating to the footpath on the sting of Runway 05/23, they acknowledged that pedestrians utilizing this path might be simply seen from the pilot’s field and takeoff or touchdown ought to be averted when persons are on this space. One other footpath on the south of the location is obscured by a hedge, and the procedures acknowledged that flying over this space ought to be averted. Neither the footpaths within the wooded space between the airfield and the railway observe nor the pedestrian crossing over the railway observe have been particularly talked about within the membership procedures.
The procedures didn’t embrace any directions concerning what steps members ought to take if an plane crashed on or close to the railway observe.
The mannequin flying membership’s threat evaluation didn’t embrace any hazards particularly regarding the operation of mannequin plane in proximity to the railway line or lack of management in proximity to the railway line, though it did embrace a number of different lack of management eventualities.
Membership security investigation
Following the accident, the mannequin flying membership carried out an inside security investigation, which decided that preparation for the flight was carried out in accordance with membership procedures. The investigation didn’t determine the explanation for the lack of management however thought of a number of prospects.
The membership carries out roughly 6,500 flights per 12 months and reported that this was the primary plane to have crashed on the railway in over seven years of operation. Following the accident, the membership amended its procedures to require any turbine-powered mannequin to be accredited by the membership committee earlier than it may be flown on the web site in order that its suitability might be assessed.
Community Rail steerage for working unmanned plane within the neighborhood of railway tracks
Community Rail publishes steerage on its web site for working unmanned plane (together with mannequin plane) within the neighborhood of railway tracks. This means that unmanned plane can’t be flown inside 50 m of a Community Rail observe with out prior permission from its Air Operations group. For leisure or business UAV flights, permissions might be utilized for by way of Community Rail’s flight administration system
Community Rail suggested the AAIB that an object the scale and weight of the mannequin plane on a railway observe would unlikely trigger injury or threat of derailment to a shifting prepare.
Nonetheless, collision with a prepare, particularly the driving force’s window, might trigger a considerable security risk, significantly given the carriage of jet gasoline on this explicit case. It might additionally symbolize a threat to trace staff or customers of the pedestrian crossing.
After management of the mannequin plane was misplaced, it continued to fly for a short while past visible line of sight. The plane crashed on an adjoining railway observe and near a public footpath, the place it had the potential to trigger harm to uninvolved third individuals. Whereas the mannequin plane was thought of unlikely to have posed a prepare derailment threat given its dimension and weight, a prepare working over a jet-fuel-powered mannequin plane is a extremely undesirable scenario. There was additionally a possible threat that the plane might have struck the prepare window.
The membership procedures required members to keep away from deliberately flying their plane within the route of the railway observe, however its threat evaluation didn’t embrace the hazard of an inflight lack of management leading to an plane crashing past visible line of sight, together with on or near the railway. There was consequently no steerage on alerting Community Rail to the potential risk of an object on the observe and no steerage to members in regards to the hazards of coming into an energetic railway observe.
Following the accident, collaboration was undertaken between the BMFA and Community Rail’s Air Operations group. This resulted within the provision of tailor-made steerage for unmanned and mannequin plane operators which can be integrated within the BMFA’s member’s handbook. It included the availability of a 24-hour emergency contact phone quantity for reporting railway security threats, together with the presence of individuals or objects on or close to railway tracks.
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