Why so many small airplane accidents lately? - John J Nance.

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Why so many small airplane accidents lately? - John J Nance.


Post by avi-addict » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:25 am

Why So Many Small Airplane Accidents Lately?
It does seem like a legitimate question. For the past few months it seems there is seldom a day that goes by without a report of a small plane being involved in either a close call or an accident, many of them fatal. I’ve been running as many numbers as I can find in terms of statistics to try to discern an answer, and despite the fact that totals from 2016 aren’t officially in, early indications are that the total number of accidents and fatalities are roughly the same as 2016, and may be below 2015.
In fact, 2015’s totals were slightly below 2014’s.
What I believe is going on is similar to a manufacturing company that has never formally measured close calls on its production line as identified by it’s people, because they never asked the right questions. When they start asking, the reports that come in make it look like the production line is falling apart, when all that’s really occurring is that the true nature of the frontline operations are finally coming into view.
Clearly we in the broadcast business have been improving on the scope and depth of our aviation coverage in the last few years, and while a single-engine aircraft running off a runway (with no one getting hurt) would have gone essentially unnoticed five years ago, today – at least at ABC – our sharp transportation unit in Washington, DC will have picked up on the occurrence within minutes. Not everything gets airtime, of course, but with the three major networks and CNN’s instant coverage becoming ever more responsive – and the instantaneous ability of social media to alert us – what used to be an occasional story now seems like a drumbeat.
The bottom line? We don’t have any evidence yet that the number of accidents or the number of fatalities and serious injuries from small airplane mishaps are increasing, and indeed the hard work of the FAA, AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), Flight Safety Foundation, and so many others to improve the safety of private flying has and continues to pay off.
I’m often approached by fellow pilots who say in a self-deprecating fashion that they’re only “amateur pilots,” but I hasten to reply that if they are paying attention to the basics, they are just as professional as any 747 captain. Aviation safety simply isn’t compatible with amateur attitudes. Therefore, whether you’re skippering a Piper Cub or an Airbus A-380, you’re expected to be a pro. I think that recognition, plus the dramatic improvements in the quality of private flight training and the great efforts of the insurance industry to ensure we’re properly trained and current, have all contributed mightily to a significant lowering of private aircraft accidents. What we still struggle with, however, are pilots who think they can mix alcohol (or drugs) and flying, or those who in cavalier fashion believe they don’t have to faithfully run the checklist or do a thorough preflight, or those who think they don’t have to be acutely aware of their fuel state at all times. Couple those deficiencies with poor or no flight planning into bad weather, and the tendency to overfly one’s experience, capabilities, and training (the lethal mix that killed John F. Kennedy Jr, his wife and sister-in-law), and we are always faced with a challenge in training and compliance.
There’s an old adage quite often seen hanging on the wall of small airport flying schools:
“Aviation in and of itself is not inherently dangerous, but to an even greater extent than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity, or neglect.”
Truer words were never written.

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Re: Why so many small airplane accidents lately? - John J Nance.


Post by Aztec driver » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:40 pm

In my humble opinion, and with the greatest respect to parties involved or concerned, the problem goes all the way back to the quality of training. The traditional career instructor is no more, the vast majority of instructors are part time hour builders. These instructors themselves, are barely competent, and it becomes a self propelling problem where bad training is passed on over and over.

Case in point: I have adopted a young pilot, who I allow to build twin hours on the Aztec. CPL instrument rated and 650 hours under the belt. It took a fair number of hours to drill the bad training out of him, and for him to develop a "feel" for the plane.

Modern instruction prepares the student to pass exams and operate an aircraft, they are no longer trained to be pilots in classic sense of the word.

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Re: Why so many small airplane accidents lately? - John J Nance.


Post by Bell 407 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:13 pm

Aztec, I agree with your sentiment. When I started PPL(H) training in 2004 I was spoilt for choice for the career instructors that were available. Their years of flying experience was on average 2,500 to 3,500 hours as instructors. Nowadays, that is not the case and the hours are just not there.

But I suppose everyone has to start somewhere :thinking:

Being a mentor is a wonderful contribution you are making to his young career. Good luck with it :good:

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