Need To Reduce Risks of VFR into IMC Accidents

Credit: AOPA

One of the top five causes of fatal general aviation (GA) accidents is visual flight rules (VFR) into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). This is why their Air Safety Institute (ASI) has announced a new safety campaign, “VFR into IMC: Avoidance and Escape,” focused on combatting this preventable circumstance.

The campaign will run from April 1 to Dec. 31, and contains materials, programs and upcoming events that are packaged in an online resource center with links to videos, podcasts, articles and webinars. Continuous updates will be added throughout the year as more material and events become available.

“It’s not only VFR pilots who get trapped; about one-third of these accidents involve instrument-rated pilots,” says Richard McSpadden, ASI’s senior vice president. “Experience alone is no guard against them. In fact, instrument-rated commercial pilots are twice as likely to be involved in VFR into IMC accidents compared to their non-instrument-rated counterparts.”

ASI further attributes VFR into IMC to playing a role in several other types of accidents including loss of control in-flight and controlled flight into terrain.

Among the materials in the campaign is a VFR into IMC research study, conducted by ASI, concluding that pilots encounter these conditions every other week on average.

With accidents of this nature typically ending in a fatality, ASI hopes to focus efforts and outreach on addressing this all-too-common occurrence.