Controlled flight into terrain

A controlled flight into terrain (English for controlled flight into terrain ), short CFIT, occurs when an intact aircraft from a trained pilot is flown into terrain, while this is the imminent collision is not aware of.

If the pilot is aware of the dangerous situation, but due to technical or human error the impact can not be avoided, it is called an uncontrolled flight into terrain ( UFIT ).

  • 2.1 of smoke in the cockpit
  • 2.2 Multiple hydraulic failure

Examples of a CFIT

Misinterpretation of the altitude

During a landing approach, the pilots misunderstand the height requirements of the air traffic control, flying as a result of insufficient height and recognize this fact due to reduced visibility and distraction by other tasks in the cockpit either not at all or only when a ground contact can not be avoided.

In this case, there is no technical defect. The allowable flight altitude was misinterpreted and their verification by the entrained cards under either leave or read the map wrong.

Incorrect operation of the autopilot

Due to improper use of the autopilot, the aircraft independently controls that the crew noticed it in time into the ground or against a mountain without.

Here we have a classic operation error: The system links the avionics control were either not understood or negligently used incorrectly, which meant that the autopilot the set instructions acted systematically correct to true, but not in terms of what the pilots actually wanted to achieve.

Examples do not represent a CFIT

Smoke in the cockpit

On the basis of smoke in the cockpit, the pilot by limiting the view are no longer in a position to read the instruments to be properly operating. As a result of the plane crashes.

In this case, although all instruments and systems of the airplane are intact, but it was the pilot objectively impossible to read them correctly.

Multiple hydraulic failure

Due to a multiple hydraulic failure the pilots are no longer directly influence able to pitch and trim on the control organs.

In this case, the control systems are no longer intact - the pilots inevitably lose control of the aircraft. An uncontrolled flight into terrain is the result.


Between 1946 and 1955 there was an annual average of 3.5 cases in which a flight -grade, taxable passenger plane was flown into the area. This accumulation of CFIT accidents led in the 1970s to the development and introduction of the ground proximity warning system GPWS. Until 1980, the risk was reduced despite the strong growth of air traffic in about two CFITs per year.

Actual accidents due to CFIT