General Aviation Safe?
Smartass answer #1: Safe
enuf for me
Smartass answer #2: Life
is not safe.
Probably correct answer:
No one knows for sure. Statistics show it is quite safe. How safe is safe,
is quite personal.
In 1996, a typical year, General
Total Accidents: 1,681
Fatal Accidents: 323 (at least one person died, 20% of total)
Of the fatal
accidents (323), the largest number was due to “collision with object
or terrain” which generally means gross pilot error (80). The
next largest was “non-mechanical engine failure” which
generally means running out of gasoline (19), followed by mechanical
engine failure (14) and the scary “mid-air collision”
Comparing with Commercial
Statistics of commercial aviation
are almost meaningless, due to how small the number of accidents are. in
1996 there were 21 accidents, 3 were fatal and 270 people died. (Of these,
TWA-800 caused 230 deaths).
For some other years, the death
1993: 0 1994: 228 1995: 152
Commercial aviation (in the US)
is huge - 20 companies, 4,000 aircraft, 20,000 flights a day, carrying 1.6
million people. General aviation is however, significantly larger.
|Number of Aircraft
||206,000 (140,000 privately
|Number of Pilots
||600,000 (40,000 women)
|Number of hours flown
|Number of airports
||20,000 (14,000 are
||5 billion miles
||unknown - 6-8 million is a
Note that the higher numbers of General Aviation
flights and pilots make "exposure" higher and hence it seems
that the number of deaths are not disproportionately higher.
If we move on
to statistics about cars, the numbers becomes disastrous. In the year 2000
41,821 people died in car accidents and 3,189,000 people were injured. Of
the deaths, 16,653 were due to alcohol related impairments and 9,873 due