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AAIB: make sure you can escape
First Posted: Thu 30 Nov 2006
The AAIB has issued a Special Bulletin into the collision of two gliders over Sutton Bank in October this year. One pilot was able to jettison his canopy and parachute clear from the aircraft; the other pilot's body, however, was found near the wreckage. He had unfastened his harness prior to impact but his parachute had not been operated; it is unclear in the initial investigation whether he had exited the aircraft.
The canopy jettison procedure on the fatal aircraft (a Schleicher ASW 19B) had been initiated, but not completed - the front section of the canopy frame had been released, but the canopy locking pins at the rear were still 'locked'.
This ASW 19B had been equipped with electronic navigation aids, which were fitted to the front of the glare shield and canopy frame; it is probable, says the AAIB, that if the jettison sequence had been completed, the wiring to the components installed on the canopy frame and glare shield would have prevented the canopy from being successfully jettisoned.
The AAIB has therefore issued Safety Recommendations that pilots should include in their pre-flight checks a check that no mods have been made which could prevent the canopy being jettisoned; and that glider inspectors should also be reminded of this.