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Old July 12th 03, 05:33 PM
Ralph Nesbitt
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"Fred B" wrote in message
. ..
Thanks, Cap. That was a good discussion.

Prehaps to get a better grasp of GA Safety it would be necessary to
evaluate/compare sub-catagories of GA incidents into professional, semi-
professional, & recreational pilot groups.

For purpose of discussion the "Professional Group" would include
instructors, others who fly for pay. The semi-professional group are those
that fly themselves as an adjunt to their professional activities on a
regular basis . The recreation group being those who fly for recreation
Ralph Nesbitt
Professional FD/CFR/ARFF Type

"Captain Wubba" wrote in message
While I agree with the need to look at this kind of data in multiple
ways, I think the 'per departure' numbers may be very misleading.
First off, there are plenty of GA planes that make literally hundreds
of departures per week. I see training planes at my airport do a dozen
touch-and-goes an hour, and these planes often fly 30-40 hours a week
in the summer. Does that count as a 'departure'? If so, then that
would dramatically reduce the 'per departure' GA accident rate. If
not, then why count the automoble 'departure' that consists of a 1
mile drive to the video store? A more 'meaningful' comparison would be
to compare the fatalities in different groupings of activity. While
this is necessarily somewhat arbitrary, I think a reasonable question
would be "If I will be travelling more than 100 miles on this trip,
and going between two cities, what is the liklihood that I will arrive
safely in a GA plane vs. a car?" After all, airplanes and cars have
very different mission profiles on short trips. One can hardly compare
a 2 mile trip in a car to a 750 mile hard-IFR cross country. Neither
can one compare a T&G with an instructor aboard to a 250 mile car trip
in a driving blizzard. The comparison would be meaningless.

In this, I think GA will come out better than one might think. I
remember reading something from AAA a couple years ago basically
saying that long-distance driving (i.e. or more than two hours I
believe) was dramatically more dangerous than local driving. Which is
quite logical. I recently returned (driving) from a 150 mile trip, and
saw at least 10 crosses by the sides of the highway. I think that the
comparison between this kind of driving and GA flying a similar
distance will yield a reasonably close rate of fatality.

In the end, one thing we know for certain is that the vast majority of
aircraft fatalities are directly attributable to pilot error. I
randomly looked at 100 NTSB fatal-accident reports the other day (slow
day). 91% of these crashes were clearly pilot error. And, as the Nall
Report reiterates every year, something like 75% of all aircraft
accidents are related to just one of three causes (VFR into IMC,
low-level maneauvering [stall-spins], and fuel mismanagement. This
isn't complex stuff. This is trivially easy to prevent. All it takes
is training and discipline.

Personally, I think it is safer to fly GA with a 'professional'
quality pilot than it is to drive a similar distance (assuming a cross
country). If 90% of airplane fatalities can be attributed to pilots
acting stupid, then it stands to reason that if you only fly with
pilots who have the training and discipoline to *not* act the fool,
then you are much more likely to arrive safely than if you were flying
with the 'average' pilots. If GA has a reputation for being dangerous,
there is nobody to blame but ourselves. there *ever* an
excuse for running out of gas? Is there ever an excuse for
intentionally flying into clouds when you are not qualified or
prepared? But pilots do it all the time. And kill people.

I'd feel much safer in the back of a 182 travelling 200 miles, being
piloted by a pilot who never busts minima, who never lands with less
than hour of gas, and who never shows off than I would even driving my
own car that 200 miles. My odds of getting hit by a drunk driver, or
getting clipped by a truck that can't see me, or getting distracted
for that one second and not seeing the brake lights ahead of me seem
vastly higher in the car than in the plane.