Accident to the Extra 200 registered F-GPIT on 25/02/2016 at Saint-Héand (Loire)

Investigation progression Closed
Progress: 100%

The F-GPIT pilot wanted to ferry his aeroplane for a scheduled maintenance operation at
Avignon. To this end, he planned to carry out a formation flight with a pilot from his club,
at the controls of F-WVAP. The two pilots, aware of the degraded weather forecast on their
route, decided to take off and to adapt their navigation during the flight according to the
conditions encountered.

When the weather conditions deteriorated, as had been forecast, the pilots lost sight of
each other and the F-GPIT pilot, who was supposed to follow F-WVAP, then found himself
at the head of the formation. On arriving in the Lyon airspace sectors, the distance between
the pilots increased and the controller announced the end of their formation flight.

The pilot of F-GPIT, an aeroplane equipped with unsuitable instruments for a flight with
no visibility and without radionavigation equipment, continued his flight in weather
conditions incompatible with a VFR flight for around 30 minutes. The controller did not
detect this undeclared emergency situation despite the pilot’s attempt to divert to Saint-
Etienne airport which failed because of the IMC conditions prevailing at this airport. The
pilot of F-WVAP, an aeroplane equipped with modern avionics, decided to turn back after
having tried for several minutes to find F-GPIT to help the pilot to get out of these adverse

The controller was relieved by a second controller who rapidly became aware of F-GPIT’s
abnormal situation. A third controller was called specifically to provide assistance to the
pilot, but the latter, probably exhausted by the time spent flying in weather conditions
incompatible with a VFR flight, lost the control of his aeroplane while turning. F-GPIT
struck the terrain in fog.

The investigation showed that the F-GPIT pilot continued his flight without informing
ATC of the degraded weather conditions in which he was manoeuvring for around thirty
minutes. In the absence of such information, the controller, not trained to detect this type
of situation, was not able to quickly understand the difficulties encountered by the F-GPIT
pilot, delaying the setting up of suitable assistance.

The BEA has addressed two safety recommendations, one to the DSAC and the second
to the DSNA, with the aim of inciting pilots in VFR flights in degraded weather conditions
to immediately declare their situation to the control and of improving the controllers’
detection of these situations in the event of pilots not spontaneously reporting them.