INVESTIGATION INTO A DANGEROUS OCCURRENCE AT THE LANDRES 2000 C/L WORLD
By Derek Heaton, FAI Jury member. 8th August, 2000
During the first round of races a serious crash occurred involving all
three models in one of the heats. It was decided by the FAI Jury that
there had been a serious risk of injury to persons and that the causes
of the incident needed to be investigated to better understand how to
prevent a recurrence. The pilots of each of the three teams together
with their Team Managers were invited to a meeting with both the FAI
Jury and F2C panel of Judges prior to the start of the second round. Due
to language and availability problems only two of the teams were able to
be present for the review meeting. The meeting was chaired by D Heaton,
FAI Jury member, who stressed that the purpose of the meeting was not to
apportion blame but to understand the mechanisms that led up to the crash
so that a recurrence could be prevented.
HISTORY OF THE OCCURRENCE.
The 3 pilots were allocated coloured bibs prior the race -red, blue and
The race started with all 3 models taking off together. Almost
immediately the White pilot in attempting to overtake got himself badly
positioned relative to the other 2 pilots, he appeared unable to move
into the correct position relative to the other pilots.
Initially the model of the Red pilot was a little slower in warming up,
as it did so it became the fastest model of the three and the Red pilot
moved towards the centre of the circle of pilots to overtake. The White
pilot now found himself at the back of the circle and was having
difficulty in controlling his model as he attempted to retain visual
contact with it around the other pilots.
The Blue pilot was forced to the back of the circle (the slowest model)
and was also having difficulty in keeping his model in view, the primary
reason for his difficulties were caused by the incorrect positioning of
the White pilot who was causing a blocking situation.
The F2C Panel of Judges gave the White pilot a warning for behind centre
but he did not respond as he should have done by moving towards the
front of the pilots circle.
All three pilots became involved in holding and grabbing onto each other
as they attempted to control their models and retain visual contact.
At approximately 18/20 laps into the race the F2C Panel of Judges gave
the White pilot a second warning for behind centre, again
there was no response from the White pilot to correctly reposition himself..
By this time the 3 pilots had moved towards the edge of the piloting
circle (3 metres off the centre). The Blue pilot was running hard around
the other 2 pilots to keep control of his model. The Red pilot
forcefully took the centre of the three pilots putting himself in face
to face contact with the White pilot, the F2C Panel of Judges then
instructed the teams to stop racing. Almost immediately the Blue pilot
was forced out of the pilots circle and stepped off the hard surface
onto the grass and finally fell over as he attempted to get back onto
the pilots ring.
At this point the Red and White pilots appeared to trip over each other
causing the White pilot to fall over dragging the Red pilot out of the
2 of the models crashed inside the 19.6 metre flying circle whilst the
model crashed approximately 2 metres outside the flying circle close
to the official timekeepers.
- The F2C Panel of Judges could clearly see the approaching problem but
is only empowered by the rules to issue warnings, there is nothing
specific in the rules to permit the Judges to stop a race.
- The actions of all three pilots in holding onto each other helps to
create problems of correct pilot orientation relative to each other and
their models. All 3 pilots were very untidy during this race.
- It is a common occurrence for all pilots to wander away from the
centre of the pilots circle on this site AND they always move off to the
same point. This phenomenon has been observed at every preceding contest
on this circuit. This had already been anticipated by the F2C Panel of
Judges and they had issued instructions at the Team Manager's meeting
that they would be advising pilots to move back to the centre of the
circle whenever they were seen to be wandering towards the edge during
- The edge of the hard surfacing stops approximately 400mms outside the
painted edge of the pilot's circle. And has an almost vertical edge
230mms in height above the outer grass level.
- The timekeepers were protected by a free standing mesh screen between
them and the flying circle at each pitting segment.
- Despite falling over all 3 pilots retained hold of their handles
preventing the models flying off.
- The reason why 1 model crashed outside the 19.6 metre flying circle
was due to the position of the Red and White pilots some 1.5 metres
outside the pilots circle in the fall.
- The Blue pilot cut his engine at the last moment as he fell over
trying to regain his footing inside the pilot's circle.
- If 2 of the pilots had made a decision to shut off their models
earlier and stop racing as they became entangled then this accident
could have been avoided.
- Immediately prior to the accident the Red pilot was about to receive
a warning for being in the centre, this was not actually given as the
crash occurred before the announcement could be made.
- The White pilot did not appear to respond to his 2
behind centre warnings.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO PREVENT A RECURRENCE.
- The FAI jury emphasised the need to maintain safety first throughout
the contest and that everyone involved in the event:- organisers, Juries
and competitors had a responsibility in this area.
- The 3 pilots directly involved in this incident were shown a replay
of the video recording of that race and strongly reminded of their
personal responsibility in ensuring that they conducted themselves in a
safe and sporting manner..
- The FAI jury agreed that the F2C Panel of Judges should take prompt
action to stop a race as soon as they felt that a dangerous incident
could be about to occur, and that this decision would be strongly
supported by the FAI Jury. This would be done by issuing a general
command to "STOP RACING - SAFETY".
- The FAI jury would reinforce to every pilot before the start of the
- the need for them to respond quickly in a co-ordinated way to the
advice from the F2C Jury to "MOVE TO THE CENTRE" and
- to immediately shut off their engines if they receive the command to
"STOP RACING- SAFETY"
- With the above actions carried out it was felt that the achievable
safety level would not compromise the continuation of the contest.
- The provision of a second painted circle at 2.0 metre radius inside
the existing 3.0 metre radius Pilot's circle will provide better visual
orientation for pilots. All circles and centre spot should be painted
with a non-slip finish.
- Prior to the organisation of future CIAM sanctioned contests the
organisers should carry out a review of this circuit with particular
- The height of the perimeter safety fencing alongside the linecheck
- The extension of the hard surfacing to the existing Pilot's circle by
the addition of a further 2metre wide ring of Tarmac to eliminate the
vertical drop. ( This can be tapered down to the existing grass level at
its outer edge) Note:- the additional ring should be symmetrical around
the existing circle even though the height of the ring above the grass
varies to prevent visual confusion to the pilots.
- Repainting all the markings in the Pilots circle in White (non slip
finish) to improve visibility for better pilot orientation.
- Further test flying on the circuit to ascertain the reason why pilots
are continually wandering towards the same edge together with any
remedial work to prevent this occurring in the future.
- The FAI Jury felt that they could not recommend that the White
pilot continued flying in the contest as his lack of experience at this
level of competition could lead to a further significant safety risk. At
this point the Team Manager of the White team requested an adjournment
for private consultation with his team after which he stated that the
White team had decided to withdraw from the remainder of the contest.