Cat. 3 investigation report: report concerning an occurrence with limited consequences, based on one or more statements not independently validated by the BEA.
This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in July 2019. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.
Note: The following information is principally based on statements made by the pilot. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.
1 - HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT
The pilot, accompanied by a passenger in the front seat, carried out a towed take-off from Saint-Girons - Antichan aerodrome at about 14:15, for a flight over the Pyrenees.
He released the cable near Cap de Bouirex, at an altitude of about 1,800 m. Once there, he used thermal lift until he reached an altitude of 2,950 m and then headed west. After reaching Pic d'Arbizon, he turned around and headed east. He used uplifts around Pic des Trois Seigneurs and reached an altitude of 3,600 m.
He then continued towards Ax-les-Thermes, which he reached at an altitude of 2,850m. He did not manage to find any uplift there and turned around. The glider quickly lost altitude, with a vertical speed of -3 to -4 m/s.
On passing Tarascon-sur-Ariège and realizing that he could not return to his departure aerodrome, the pilot decided to head to Pamiers-Les Pujols, which he could reach with a L/D ratio of 30. The glider continued to lose altitude and the pilot understood that he would not be able to reach this aerodrome. He decided to perform an off-field landing. At this point, he was in a small valley where there were very few fields which he considered unsuitable for a precautionary landing. He chose a field of about 300 m in length. The landing was hard and the glider bounced. After the second touchdown, the glider ran over a bump during the landing run and the fuselage broke.
2 - ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
2.1 Pilot information
The 24-year-old pilot held an SPL glider pilot licence issued in October 2020 after training that began on 27 July 2020. He indicated that his instructor had cleared him for cross-country flight on 4 April 2021. He had logged 102 glider flight hours.
He also held an ultralight pilot licence and had logged about 250 ultralight flight hours. He had started training for a private pilot licence in 2012 and had logged 40 aeroplane flight hours.
The pilot indicated that he knew the fields suitable for precautionary landings. When he made his L/D ratio calculation, passing near the Tarascon-sur-Ariège field suitable for a precautionary landing, he preferred to try and reach Pamiers-Les Pujols aerodrome to avoid having to disassemble the glider and transport it by trailer because he found it troublesome. He indicated that he should have realized that it was not possible to reach the aerodrome because a glide ratio of 30 was too optimistic. He mentioned a tunnel effect with respect to his objective.
2.2 Training manager’s statement
The club’s training manager indicated that the lifting of the limitation to local flights was not valid because the instructor did not have the authority to do so. According to him, the pilot did not have the necessary skills to perform this flight.
 The glider’s theoretical maximum L/D ratio is 41.
 According to the training manual on cross-country training, published by the National Gliding Centre (CNVV), the training certificate which lifts the restriction to local flights on the SPL licence, is issued by the person in charge of the organization’s training or his delegate.