I was fortunate to be able to attend the Flying New Zealand (RNZAC) annual conference in Christchurch last weekend. An interesting and valuable couple of days. Not having come up through the aero club movement (rather I began my flying in the RNZAF), I have not really appreciated just how dedicated to recreational and sport aviation the movement is. I was very impressed.
Anyway, one of the speakers talked about the perceived/potential risk of grass seed blocking some aspect of some carburetors in light aircraft, effectively causing an engine failure. The most likely time this seems to have occurred is shortly after takeoff. Not ideal if you, like me, don’t want to have to prove just how skilled you really are. I’d rather simply just hope I’m that good!
Obviously “the industry” should be exploring this issue and doing everything reasonable to reduce this risk. But the aspect of the discussion that caught my attention was the apparent lack of any evidence that there was in fact a problem. A number of senior instructors expressed their concern about ingestion of grass seed when taxiing on some grass surfaces, told war stories and offered anecdotal evidence. And I have no reason the doubt their sincerity. But when the CAA were approached to help mitigate this perceived threat, they went through their database of reports and found none. Consequently they were not able to justify the allocation of any resources to progress the issue.
The message seemed to me to be that if there isn’t a history of reports of an issue, then they will struggle to get the resources to deal with it, even if they want to.
Answer - file incident reports (CAA Form 005), even if they are routine observations of a potential threat. Be proactive. That way a history of an issue is built up and perhaps an incident/accident can be prevented.
At the very least you mightn’t have to demonstrate your wonderful level of skill in anger!