General Aviation Plane Crashes

by Frieda Flyer on November 1, 2010

in General Aviation

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, general aviation flights account for most of the crashes, injuries, and deaths in U.S. aviation.  In fact, the risk is 82 times greater than for major airlines.  General aviation flights include small private planes and business jets including use for recreation, emergency medical services, fire-fighting, sight-seeing, traffic reporting and other purposes. 

 Researching data from 2002 to 2005, general aviation was found to make up 91% of all U.S. aviation crashes and 94% of all aviation deaths. Factors that may contribute to this is that the smaller planes aren’t able to withstand the impact forces thereby protecting those on board and they haven’t made the improvements major airlines have in the last years – such as seat strength, etc.  The FAA and NTSB have been urged to do more to improve safety of small airplanes.  

Everyday I read about more and more plane crashes – especially those considered general aviation (all flights not involving the military or scheduled flights).  I wonder why there are so many often involving fatalities.  Todd Curtis, a former USAF flight test engineer in sheds some light on the increase in plane crashes. 

~ More people than ever are flying in all areas.

~ Small planes and general aviation are growing very rapidly and fly under a less restrictive set of rules.  To obtain a “recreational” pilot’s certificate, one has only to be 17 years old, pass a written exam, and a flying test. This pilot can fly during daylight hours only and within 15 nautical miles of the airport where he/she learned to fly.

~ General aviation flight hours are greater – meaning more time is spent in the air.  In this category, Curtis explains the number of accidents is roughly equivalent to the number of hours flown.  The statistics for 2006 shows one in five general aviation accidents resulted in a fatality.

~ Training makes a difference.  General aviation has an accident rate of 50 times greater and a fatality rate 120 times greater than that of airliners that require the highest level of training. The lowest level requires a minimum of 40-50 hours – airlines require 1,500 minimum and usually with many years experience/training on a small aircraft.

~ General aviation required no extensive medical exam – passing a medical certificate every two years is all that is required.  So a pilot could have poor eyesight, hearing problems, and it the two year span he could have become medically unable to fly. 

These are people we might not allow in cars on our streets, that could possible be flying over our homes!

 The FAA now states to have a recreational pilot’s certificate one has to be 17 years old, pass a written exam and flying test and then you can fly an single engine airplane weighing 12,500 lbs total.  

I certainly don’t want to halt general aviation at all, but with planes crashing into homes, parks, school yards, etc., I do think the FAA and general aviation needs to think about making this wonderful adventure safer for those who fly these aircraft and for those of us on the ground.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ben R. Coleman November 13, 2010 at 3:11 am

This is a very difficult subject to discuss. It’s difficult because it only affects a miniscule sector of our population. But if you are directly affected with the loss of a friend or loved one, it is a paramount subject that spikes with a need for information. My years as an aircraft accident investigator required me to meet and make new friends, both living and deceased.

I hope the public will take this website serious and learn as much as possible on these subject matters. Knowledge is the power to affect improvement in this industry. Jim Crouse is one of the few professionals in the litigation industry that would like to work himself out of a job. No more crashes, no more need for wrongful death litigation. Safety is the objective, Knowledge is the key, Prevention is the avenue.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: