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    Accident Reporting


The Training Exemption of all three Ultralight Organization requires that ultralight accidents be reported.  Below is detailed information on how to make a useful report.

Background information
Because of the need to more fully investigate ultralight accidents, I used my training from the Army Aviation Accident Investigation course and my experiences in investigating both Army and ultralight accidents and developed the following pages of information.

Every accident should be investigated in sufficient detail to know what caused it and what could prevent a recurrence.  Otherwise, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  With no intent to embarrass or demean anyone, we must then share the mistakes made with others so the entire community improves in safety.

There are a large number of incidents/accidents discussed in ultralight circles that have common causes.  Knowing this, we as the community leaders should be doing everything in our power to “break the chain” of events leading to crashes.

We automatically become the “expert” at the scene of an ultralight crash.  We must accept this and demonstrate our concern for the future of our sport by taking charge and fully determining the causes of crashes and training and educating to avoid them in the future.

Let’s all make a moral decision to do what we can to prevent accidents.  That will let each of us have more fun, and those in our community can continue to have learn safely.

Ralph McClurg

From Advisory Circular 103-6


   a. The NTSB is the official Government investigator for all transportation safety issues. Its purpose is to impartially analyze occurrences which may indicate a transportation safety problem and to recommend corrective action. The NTSB has decided to investigate all fatal powered ultralight vehicle accidents and other selected ultralight accidents and incidents which may involve significant safety issues. The Safety Board will also investigate ultralight vehicle accidents impinging on civil aircraft operations or on persons and property on the ground. The Safety Board will review accident data and the safety efforts of the aviation community in order to keep abreast of any emerging safety problems and will be available to provide technical assistance in remedying those problems.

      (1) Immediately attend to the medical and physical needs of the situation. Notify the local authorities if assistance is needed.
      (2) Do not move or remove any debris associated with the occurrence.
      (3) Write down as much as you can remember. This will be very helpful in accurately recalling the incident.
      (4) Notify, or have the local authorities notify, the nearest NTSB Field office. This information can be found in the local phonebook under U.S. Government, National Transportation Safety Board, or call your local FAA office and request the NTSB telephone number.
      (5) If you are able, take photographs of the site, and get the names and phone numbers of any witness.
   b. NTSB requests that you be very helpful in reporting such incidents as this will give all of the owners / operators of
ultralights a chance to benefit from the knowledge gained during the investigation. The Safety Board investigation is fact finding in nature and will not be used to substantiate any violation of Federal Aviation Regulations.
   c. Additionally, the FAA supports the goals of private organizations and associations to provide technical and operational assistance to the ultralight industry in enhancing the reliability of the vehicles and the safety of the sport. The FAA encourages all participants in the sport of ultralight flying to report any incident, accident, structural or mechanical failure of an ultralight to the private organizations and associations actively representing the sport.


Ultralight Accident Procedures - Immediate

 Call for and assist crash-rescue efforts as needed

 Notify police if there will be a crowd

 Secure the area -protect the scene. Use police tape if possible. Keep spectators far enough away to keep them from seeing blood and pain and details of the damage

 Keep news crews at least 50 yards away -don't let them sweet talk you

 Keep people from collecting souvenirs of the crash

 Get witness' statements -keep them apart while they are describing it

 Photograph everything -surroundings, flight path, impact areas, craft, damage to terrain, -use digital, video, and 35mm plus Polaroid - take plenty

 Make a drawing of the scene with dimensions -show flight path, point of impact(s), and scattered pieces

 Get help from other pilots to make sure you have the probable manner of crash

 Collect evidence and write a report as if you had to go to court and explain it-you may!

 Write a report. The intent of any investigation should be to find the cause of the crash and recommend/implement methods of preventing another. Make the report detailed enough to describe events before and during the flight, then why the flight terminated in a crash

 Re-interview witnesses at 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days – memories may change and they may recall something later that they did not right after the crash

 Page 2


 Pilot Information:
Name; Age; Gender; Height; Weight; Total logged hours in PPC; total PIC hours in ANY aircraft; Total PIC flying hours in a powered parachute (PPC); Total flying hours in THIS PPC; Total flying time for the day of the accident; Was the pilot wearing {please describe type): a helmet, a flight suit, gloves, glasses, goggles, etc.

 Passenger/student Information:
Name; Age; Gender; Height; Weight; Total pilot-in-command (PIC) flying hours in ANY aircraft; Total PIC flying hours in a powered parachute (PPC); Total flying hours in THIS PPC; Total flying time for the day of the accident; Was the passenger wearing (please describe type): a helmet, a flight suit, gloves, glasses, goggles, etc.

 Aircraft Condition Prior to Accident:
Make, model and serial numbers of the PPC craft and of the wing (parachute); Date of manufacture for the PPC and of the wing (parachute); PPC craft and wing colors; Any installed factory options; Any owner installed options (including pilot/passenger communication systems); Approximate number of hours on the craft, engine, and wing; Has this craft, engine and/or wing been involved in another incident/accident (if so, describe);  Inspectors best estimate of condition prior to incident/accident (excellent, very good, good, poor, very poor)

 Field Conditions:
Field elevation; Type of runway(s) -(open field, dirt, grass, paved, etc.); Length of runway(s);  Direction of runway(s); Number and location of wind socks; Obstructions (fences, trees, roads, buildings, etc.); General description of the terrain

 Weather Conditions at the Time of the Accident:
Temperature; Humidity; Barometric pressure; Wind velocity and direction; Type of sky (clear, partly cloudy, etc.) Landing/impact Site Conditions:  Terrain; Vegetation; Obstacles (buildings, roads, Power lines, water, etc.)


Pilot -Detailed report

Passenger -Detailed report

Eyewitnesses (be sure to get each eyewitnesses Name, Age, Flying experience)

Relation to pilot and passenger; Viewpoint of incident/accident; How much of the

Incident/accident did they observe; Their description of the incident/accident from pre-flight to landing/impact; Their description of the weather conditions. Their description of the events leading to the incident/accident {party, just passing by, invited out, etc.)


Were any forms signed? If so, where are they?

 Page 3


 Photographs and/or Video of:
Recent flight(s); The incident/accident; The vehicle before and after the incident/accident;  The landing/impact site including many angles of the vehicle and wing.

Incident Summary:
Take-off time; Take-off direction; Take-off gross weight; Take-off roll to rotation distance; Compiled description of flight from take-off to landing/impact.

 Injuries Summary:
List any injuries suffered by pilot and/or passenger.

 Vehicle Damage Summary:
List major damage (major damage is any part or component that is no longer airworthy)

 Probable Cause of Accident:
This is the inspector’s best determination as to probable cause of incident/accident.

 How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented?
This is the inspector’s best determination as how this incident/accident could have been prevented.


Don’t be surprised if witness accounts vary widely – they almost always do.  Separating witnesses so they don’t hear each other’s accounts really helps.

 You are probably the expert at the scene.  It is unlikely that anyone will have more expertise at the sport than you do.

 Call the NTSB if there are serious injuries or death.  They have experience and insights that no one else has.  Note: Flight Service (1-800-WXB-RIEF) can give you the number to call.

 Don’t jump to conclusions too early.  Continue to investigate until you have all of the facts and data that are available.

 It may be necessary to ask some very personal questions while the family is struggling with serious injuries or death of a loved one.  Share in their grief or trauma.  Be compassionate and kind – let them know that you are not being punitive.  Make sure they understand that the investigation is to prevent repeat occurrences.

 Someone must report the accident to the exempting agency.  A phone call that the accident has happened should be made to them immediately if there is a serious injury or fatality.  They may want to send someone to investigate independently.  An effort should also be made to notify the manufacturer of the vehicle.

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Copyright © 2001 North American Powered Parachute Federation
Last modified: 07/23/09