When most people think of “airplane crash,” the most common image that comes to mind is an airliner accident. But general aviation crash statistics tell a much different story. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 91% of all aircraft crashes are general aviation crashes, which also account for 94% of all fatalities.
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“Crash Risk in General Aviation” (JAMA – April 11, 2007) noted that there were 228,000 active private airplane pilots, and 220,000 registered general aviation aircraft in the United States. Of those, 93% were fixed-wing airplanes, 4% were helicopters, 3% were non-motorized craft like gliders and hot-air balloons.
It also put general aviation crash risk vs. commercial airline crash risk in perspective. Airliners have a death rate of about 0.016 people killed per 100,000 flight hours, compared to 1.31 people killed in general aviation accidents. That’s 82 times higher.
Why A Higher Risk of General Aviation Crash?
The study went on to detail why the crash risk is so much higher in general aviation. Weather was the first item: smaller planes operating at lower altitudes are more susceptible to running into and being affected by bad weather. Other factors like terrain and airport systems geared more towards commercial flight also play a role.
But overwhelmingly, the experience of the pilot is the most important factor. Pilot error was reported to be a contributing factor in 85% of general aviation crashes, compared to 38% of airline crashes.* Pilots in general aviation don’t tend to have the same level of training as an airline pilot, especially when it comes to flying solely on instruments (as in bad weather conditions and other instances of low-visability). Airline pilots also tend to do quite a bit of accident-avoidance scenarios using flight simulators, something that is beyond the reach of many private pilots.
What is most disturbing however is that although airline crash rates are trending downwards since 1986, general aviation crash rates tend to be the same. This tends to suggest that regulating bodies like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are focusing on improving commercial airline safety – perhaps at the expense of general aviation safety.
General Aviation Accident Causes
There are usually a number of factors in any aircraft accident including pilot error, maintenance problems, defective parts, weather, air traffic control errors, and others. How does the cause of an accident affect compensation? The more causes involved, the more complex the case – and the harder it is for you to collect the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved on has been involved in an aircraft accident, call David P. Willis to find out your rights. You may be suffering from a number of different injuries, both mental and physical. Don’t add to them by worrying about how you are going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
David P. Willis can give you a free and comprehensive legal review so you know exactly where you stand. We’ll help you decide which parties may have been at fault to cause your injuries, which laws may apply in your case, and most importantly, how to get compensation for your injuries.
Contact us today to start your free legal review. We are here to help.
*We have seen stats taken from NTSB records that seem to indicate 53% of airplane crashes are due to pilot error, not 38%. We believe that 53% is more accurate due to the source of the information.