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 Extract from Skybary “Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) occurs when a safe to fly the plane under the complete control of the pilot, is inadvertently flown into terrain, water, or an obstacle. The pilots are unaware of the danger until it is too late”.
Yet, to throw more light on this CFIT is defined as “one in which an otherwise serviceable plane under the control of the crew, is flown into terrain, obstacles or water, with no prior awareness on the part of the crew of the impending collision
Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) persisted as the world’s second leading cause of commercial aviation fatalities as of 2008. Flight Safety Foundation first helped bring the issue clarity and resources in the early 1990s, when it was the accident type that killed more people than any other in the industry.
 CFIT occurs when an airworthy plane under the control of the flight crew is flown unintentionally into terrain, obstacles or water, usually with no prior awareness by the crew.
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Nowadays we count on Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (TAWS) to prevent CFITs. These are systems that check the current and possible positions of the plane and give audible and visual warnings to the pilots if there’s a possibility of a crash.

Possible Causes

Rain, turbulence, and icing, may increase the workload of the pilot and cause interference reducing the accuracy of radio navigation beacons. Poor visibility at night can contribute to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.

#Loss of Situational Awareness

#Spatial Disorientation

#Equipment Malfunction
 If the aircraft’s navigational equipment is unserviceable or malfunctioned, this could mislead the pilots in reading the wrong data and wrongly fly the plane into terrain.

#Adverse Meteorological Conditions

Pilots flying in IMC conditions may try to seek visual reference of land and descend below the specified safe altitude resulting in the collision with terrain.
#Pilot Fatigue and Disorientation

#Unclear Instrument Approach Templates

Unclear approach templates may cause pilots to deviate from them or misread them hence taking them close to unsafe areas especially if the airfield is near mountainous regions; this is exacerbated especially if pilots are unfamiliar.

How to prevent CFIT

1#Ground Proximity Warning Systems

These are systems installed on board the plane which provides oral warnings to the flight crew, alerting them that they are about to terrain.
For example, the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) compares aircraft position vis-a-vis GPS maps taking reference. with the aircraft’s forward flight path with the terrain, enabling pilots to take avoidance actions.


With proper and realistic training, the flight crew will be well prepared to know the hazards of flying close to terrain, to recognize the symptoms of spatial disorientation.

Also, Read

Reasons for and against flying at night

Many airlines use past CFIT accidents during training courses to emphasize points to help pilots in understanding their own limitations and recognize when an undesirable situation is developing.

#Proper documentation in-flight charts

Airline companies and pilots must ensure that they are always carrying the most up to date flight instrument charts. so that they fly the correct instrument charts and do not fly into terrain mistakes.

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