One major factor that held for this round was the high percentage of CFITs under precision guidance that happened at night, with nearly three-quarters occurring during official dark or reduced light.
A bit more than a decade ago, we sifted all the accidents wherein a qualified aircraft and pilot impacted terrain under control--what's known in the vernacular as a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)--while headed to or on an I LS ("Lawn Darts on the ILS," May 1998 IFR) Hitting a mountain while milling around in the soup might be one thing, but we were curious about times when pilots who should have been good to go with the precision navigational aids wound up playing dirt diver instead.
SCUD RUNNING 36% LOW FLYING/BUZZ 11% DEPARTURE CFITs 10% CANYON CRAWLS 8% Note: Table made from bar graph.
We have various ways of describing how that contact occurs, thus the somewhat oxy-moronic phrase "controlled flight into terrain," or CFIT. This category of accident is an attempt to explain the unexplainable: why pilots so often fly perfectly functioning airplanes into the ground, killing themselves and all aboard.
Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) occurs when a fully capable aviator inadvertently flies a fully functioning aircraft into the terrain, water, trees, or man-made obstacle before planned touchdown.
GPWS is a survivability system that warns the pilot of imminent CFIT over level terrain and water.
Stalls and CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) pop up as the two biggies in fatal accidents in general aviation to a degree that, frankly, startles us.
Or if the airplane clips the tops of trees on approach, is that loss of control or CFIT?
The truth is CFIT happens because of a variety of circumstances.
According to the Flight Safety Foundation, CFIT accidents result from a variety of catalysts and precursors.
Here's a list of CFIT mishaps within the last 10 years:
CFIT has been one of the leading causes of mishaps in recent years and continues to be one of the most difficult problems to solve.