CHAPTER 13. Abnormal and Emergency Procedures

Inadvertent Flight into Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC)

Proper fl ight planning using available weather resources should allow a pilot to avoid fl ying when the probability of low visibility is high. It is expected that WSC pilots exercise good judgment and not attempt to fl y when the visibility is questionable. However, this section is included as background for this emergency procedure for inadvertent fl ight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), fl ight without visual reference to the horizon.

Although it is possible to get an attitude indicator installed in a WSC aircraft, there are no training requirements for fl ying by instruments for sport or private pilot WSC ratings. Samples of these instruments are shown in Figures 13-9 and 13-10.

Sport pilots are not allowed to fl y unless there is visual reference to the surface and three miles visibility. This is different for private pilots for whom there is not a requirement for visual reference to the ground and the minimum fl ight visibility is only one statute mile (SM).

Accident statistics show that the average airplane pilot who has not been trained in attitude instrument fl ying, or one whose instrument skills have eroded, will lose control of the aircraft in about 10 minutes once forced to rely solely on instrument reference. WSC pilots without any instrument training attempting to use instruments in IMC conditions would lose control much sooner. No WSC pilot should attempt fl ight into IMC conditions.

The purpose of this section is to provide guidance on practical emergency measures to maintain aircraft control in the event a VFR pilot encounters IMC conditions. The main goal is not instrument fl ying; it is to help the VFR pilot keep the aircraft under adequate control until suitable visual references are regained.

The fi rst steps necessary for surviving an encounter with IMC by a VFR pilot are:

  • Recognition and acceptance of the gravity of the situation and the need for immediate remedial action.
  • Maintaining control of the aircraft.
  • Obtaining the appropriate assistance in getting the aircraft out of IMC conditions.
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