Spatial disorientation (SD) refers to an incorrect self-appraisal of the attitude or motion of the pilot and his aircraft with respect to the earth. This paper defines elements of SD problems as encountered in general civil aviation. Accident reports made by the National Transportation Safety Board for a recent 6-year period were reviewed. Statistical computations were made relating SD to fatal accidents. Small fixed-wing aircraft (under 12,500 lb) accounted for 97.3 percent of all SD accidents. Inclement weather was associated with 42 percent of all fatal accidents, and SD was a cause or factor in 35.6 percent of these cases. Non-instrument-rated pilots were involved in 84.7 percent of SD weather-involved accidents. These and other data attest to the importance of this psychophysiological phenomenon (SD) in flight safety. Suggestions are made of ways to improve pilots' awareness and understanding of this problem.

Media Info

  • Pagination: 16 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00175989
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FAA-AM-78-13
  • Files: NTIS, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 19 1978 12:00AM