A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.
Digital Engine Control
Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) means there is no direct pilot control over the engine or manual control mode. FADEC shares advantages with electronic ignition and electronic engine control systems, but it takes power management several steps further:
- FADEC systems are autonomous, self-monitoring, self-operating and redundant. If the FADEC fails, the engine fails. However, redundancy makes it much less likely that a FADEC system will fail. In fact, a double magneto failure, the aircraft components that supply electrical power to the spark plugs, is statistically more likely than a FADEC failure.
- FADEC combines throttle, propeller, and mixture controls into a single control. Every throttle setting at any altitude results in the optimum power/propeller revolution per minute or RPM/mixture combination. FADEC enables pilots to experience a vast improvement in fuel economy.
- Automatic engine performance monitoring provides over-speed and over-boost protection throughout the operation. Pilots can command maximum power, and the system will deliver that power without exceeding limitations.
- FADEC’s diagnostic processes constantly monitor the health of the aircraft’s power plant. Small problems are found before they become big problems, which is why FADEC can help make your aircraft much more efficient.
You might ask is it hard to adjust to using a FADEC system? Well, it may take some time to get used to FADEC at first, but you will come to trust the system. The biggest hurdle is realizing the system provides no reversion to manual control.
Sometimes, pilots have run engines beyond operational limits in order to get out of tight situations. You can’t do that with FADEC. Maximum allowable power is always available, but no more than that.
A few GA manufacturers are using FADEC now, but we expect to see more in the future.
Message from FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on FAA.gov, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts – some of which are already reducing risk. I hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.
More about Loss of Control
Contributing factors may include:
- Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
- Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
- Intentional failure to comply with regulations
- Failure to maintain airspeed
- Failure to follow procedure
- Pilot inexperience and proficiency
- Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol
Did you know?
- In 2016, 413 people died in 219 general aviation accidents.
- Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
- Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
- There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.
Read more about FADEC in FAA Advisory Circular 33.28-1, Compliance Criteria for 14CFR 33.28-1, Aircraft Engines, Electrical and Electronic Engine Control Systems.
You can learn more about FADEC in this FAA fact sheet.
Check out more GA Safety Enhancements fact sheets on the main FAA Safety Briefingwebsite.
The FAASafety.gov website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars and more on key general aviation safety topics.
The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements. It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.
The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.