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How Do GA Aircraft Crashes Impact You

I use to cycle about 30 miles every day, four days a week.

I realised in the first few months I nearly killed myself at least three times. I say killed myself, because while I was strictly legal, I wasnt cycling defensively. I realised it was up to me to assume drivers hadnt seen me. After that I didnt have another incident, or at least I had plenty, but they werent a threat.

I think that is similiar to motor bikes, and a dear friend used his motor bike to commute into London (about a 50 mile round journey) the whole of his working career. His experience was exactly the same.

In short the risk can be managed, you just have to assume that everyone else on the road is totally unaware you are there, and then you stand a good chance.

Patrick wrote:

but rather by skilled and diligent people who’ve gotten themselves in situations – by an unfortunate chain of events

I don’t know. For airliners that may be true where freak situation may happen due to the complexity, but for private GA I don’t think so. That chain of event consists of one single link in almost all cases. It’s either VFR into IMC or CFIT or usually “loss of control in flight” as the big number one. You get distracted for a few seconds, and before you know it you are in deep shit. VFR into IMC and CFIT are more linked to bad planning and poor airmanship.

I’m not sure there exist any remedy that doesn’t involve two pilots and strict adherence to procedures and check lists. A BRS is probably the best we can hope for.

Last Edited by LeSving at 09 Aug 16:15

dublinpilot wrote:

’m not sure that I buy that, even though it’s often said. I’ve never ridden a motorbike, so I might be wrong on this, but I get the impression that the biggest danger for motor cyclists is weaving in and out of traffic.

A motor cyclist can choose to sit in the middle of a lane, and take up a while space just like a car does, instead of driving between cars. This would be much safer, and reduce their risk massively

In actual fact it’s the other way around. It’s safer for a motorcyclist to filter than to sit in traffic like a car in many instances. For instance, if a motorcycle queues with the cars, they can be left at the end of the queue where they face a very high risk (much higher than a car) of being rear-ended. If they filter forwards, the cars shield them from being rear-ended instead.

Prudent filtering results in very few bike accidents, although some car drivers get worked up purely out of jealousy “because they are jumping the queue” (in fact bikes filtering reduces delays for car drivers. If bikes couldn’t filter they’d add to the traffic jam instead of being in effectively a separate traffic flow). The highest danger for bikes is:

  • driving outside of one’s ability – a surprising (or maybe not…) number of motorcycle accidents are high speed single vehicle accidents on rural roads.
  • SMIDSY (0) at junctions – car driver sees but fails to perceive a motorcyclist and pulls out in front of them or across their path. Almost 70% of motorcycle accidents are at junctions, and 25% of all motorcycle accidents are SMIDSYs at junctions. Car drivers are the cause of SMIDSYs at a much higher rate than bus drivers or motorcycle riders.

(0) “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You” – what the driver usually says, assuming you survive, after not looking properly and hitting you at a junction.

What Peter says about the risks of flying being more under the pilot’s control, all the pilots I have known that have died in accidents have been careful, prudent pilots. Sometimes despite this the pilot still has an incomprehensible failure in judgement. So I have to accept if someone I respected as a careful and competent pilot can screw up spectacularly, then it can happen to me so I can never fall into the trap of getting complacent about it.

Last Edited by alioth at 09 Aug 16:18
Andreas IOM

What Peter says about the risks of flying being more under the pilot’s control, all the pilots I have known that have died in accidents have been careful, prudent pilots.

However, all of us prefer to hang out with people who we like, who are like us, etc. As the old saying goes, you can judge a man by his friends.

So since you Alioth are clearly a diligent pilot (that’s obvious from your writing) probably all the people who you knew and who got killed were also diligent pilots.

For the same reason, D-ESPJ (Stefan) was a diligent pilot. He was a good friend of mine. His likely screwup (reading the “6500” on the French SIA map as an MSA figure) is scarily something I could have done if I didn’t have GPWS and a really good topo map running (and he didn’t; most pilots don’t). I’ve read hundreds of accident reports and haven’t seen many at all where I thought that. He was clever, he got out of some dodgy RHS flying with TP owners who he thought would kill themselves (one did).

The others I “knew” who got killed I didn’t know well at all, and the overwhelming evidence is that they were not very diligent.

So, I reckon most people who write a lot on EuroGA will find that most of the dead pilots they knew will have been diligent people.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

alioth wrote:

What Peter says about the risks of flying being more under the pilot’s control, all the pilots I have known that have died in accidents have been careful, prudent pilots

I always tried to learn from mistakes, mine and others as well as trying to understand reasons for mechanical failures. However, about 5 weeks ago I was close to join the statistics. Very very good pilot, lovely new aircraft. This effected me, don’t know if I want to go up again. Can’t talk much at the moment as the AAIB is involved.


Sorry Ben for your current position. Sounds like a difficult situation.

I actually disagree on the diligence theory. Whilst I accept that statistically, diligent, prudent and careful pilots, should outlive their more reckless brothers, from a wholly anecdotal perspective, and having read a lot of crash reports, a constant theme is……..great guy, great pilot, what could have happened?

My view in aviation is that you can be the most diligent, the most careful out there, but there are times where being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and when elements line up, even the best cannot overcome the situation.

I attempt to learn from these reports and crash accounts. Reasoning that perhaps one day, in a situation I may recollect a passage from a report that I can bring to bear to resolve whatever predicament I have found myself in.

My brother was a senior Traffic Cop. He instructed the police motorcyclists, car drivers, and ran the show. He has buried six friends, all police motorcyclists, all trained and diligent cops, and all died whilst riding for pleasure, outwith work. In almost every case, it was not their outright fault. Circumstances conspired and aligned to cause accidents. On a motorbike, as in an aeroplane, it is generally fatal.

Last Edited by BeechBaby at 12 Aug 21:04
Fly safe. I want this thing to land l...
EGPF Glasgow

BeechBaby wrote:

I actually disagree on the diligence theory.

Interesting thought. Let’s take that one step further and throw out a thought experiment: what if it was actually the most diligent pilots who are at greatest risk to come to grief? Those who plan in minute detail every step of their flight – aren’t they the most likely to be thrown off balance by the inevitable glitches? As everything was planned in detail, the mindset of: it’s not supposed to be, therefore it cannot be kicks in, leads to a state of denial and prevents from thinking outside the box (or plan, as it were). Discuss.

On a motorbike, as in an aeroplane, it is generally fatal

I’m not sure about that. The motorcyclists I’ve seen packed off to major trauma centres outnumber the dead ones by a fair margin. It would be interesting to see some proper figures.

Last Edited by kwlf at 12 Aug 22:18

My way to try to counter this, is to try to fly planes where at least some of the risk of mechanics or performance can be diminished (multi engine, good single engine performance, all weather). Then again, will your appetite for more dangerous flying conditions also increase, negating any safety advancements you make by having a capable aircraft? It’s a good question and possibly yes.

I’ve had three real emergencies, the first I had the benefit of having an instructor with me that could save the day (helicopter autorotation), second one pretty straightforward (partial engine failure at altitude in a twin), the third one (when door flew up) was the closest one to killing me. On paper, the last one looked the least severe.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 13 Aug 03:56

From when I used to ride bikes, most fatal cases were ones where a car was involved. Bikers who came off the road on their own tended to get scrapes, sometimes bad ones.

I don’t think diligence = inflexibility. I’d say that diligence means you prepare a Plan B as far as possible.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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