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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:27 AM
Original message
Small Planes aren't Big Risk
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 08:29 AM by ddeclue
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2006/10/post_12.html

Opposing view: Small planes aren't big risk
Crashes like this one are rare, and theyre a poor excuse to limit flying.
By Phil Boyer

Wednesday's accident was tragic and highly regrettable. And it certainly stung the nerves of post-9/11 New Yorkers. But the fact is: It was an accident. For USA TODAY to pose a series of unsubstantiated "what-if" questions and concerns regarding small aircraft, their safety and security is uninformed and ill-conceived. It's also highly irresponsible because it needlessly stokes already-heightened public concerns.

USA TODAY has not waited for the facts behind this tragedy; determining the cause (and any possible remedies) of an accident like this is a process that can take months. Instead, USA TODAY is exploiting this extraordinarily rare occurrence, using it as the barest thread of justification to bolster its long-standing and indefensible bias against small aircraft. (Read USA TODAY's view.)

The facts show that thousands of the small planes that make up general aviation fly safely over and near U.S. cities every day, just as cars and trucks drive on our highways and streets. That's especially true around New York City. So we ask: Does a single auto accident generate questions about whether cars should be on our roadways? Of course not.

For USA TODAY to question the need for increased ground security ignores the fact that general aviation pilots know their passengers and cargo. And it ignores the fact that the federal agencies responsible for our security the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration have looked hard at general aviation and said it does not pose a threat. Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself indicated that this event says "nothing" about security to New York City.

This accident is a sad event compounded by the loss of life, and our profound sympathies go out to the affected families. Like many things, flying involves a small measure of risk, but general aviation pilots work continuously to minimize those risks.

Pilots are passionate about the many joys of flying. Our freedom of travel is one of the great liberties we all enjoy in the USA. Challenging that through USA TODAY's unfounded questions not honest and informed inquiry has neither merit nor benefit.

Phil Boyer is the president of the 408,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the world's largest aviation group.

Posted at 12:21 AM/ET, October 12, 2006 in Air travel - Editorial, Terrorism - Editorial, USA TODAY editorial | Permalink


Posted here by:

Douglas J. De Clue
AOPA Member
FAA Licensed Pilot, Single Engine Land
Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech

and

Democrat.
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wakeme2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
1. :)
Multi-Engine Land and DUer... :)
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:40 AM
Response to Original message
2. I hate small planes, specifically those with prop engines...
Even a commuter-sized prop plane - they make me sick. I never get air or sea sick, and I love flying on jets, but I nearly lost my cookies on a prop commuter flight from Washington DC to Westchester County Airport - on a perfectly clear day!
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Small jets aren't much fun, either
The last one I took was a courtesy flight from Albuquerque to Denver. Yes, over the Rockies. Up we go and down we go---fast.

The only crash I was ever in was a big prop plane, though, when I was a kid. The landing gear locked and it had to do a belly landing. Injuries were no worse than bumps and bruises. If that plane had been a jet, the injuries would likely have been far worse.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. Your fear of flying has nothing to do with the actual safety of flying.
Many people have an irrational phobia about flying that is often the result of not understanding how an airplane actually works, i.e. what makes it go up and go down, combined with some unpleasant turbulence experience on an airplane trip at some point.

Light planes do have a "bumpier" ride because they have much lower wing loading, i.e. their wings have to support much less weight per square foot than do large jets.

Light planes also have bumpier rides because they generally fly much lower to the ground than jet aircraft which typically operate at or above 31,000 feet. The "bumpy" quality of flying is due to turbulence created by rising air that has been heated unevenly by the earth's surface.

The higher you are, the less "bumpy" the ride will be because the heat will only cause the air to rise so far. Once you are above the clouds, you are above the rising air and the turbulence generally ends except for "jetstream" turbulence.

Interestingly, turbulence and "bumpy" rides also end when travelling out over large bodies of water like the ocean or the Great lakes because the water itself is heated evenly and therefore heats the air above it evenly. I've personally experienced this phoenomena while flying.

Bumpy may be uncomfortable but bumpier rides do not imply a less safe ride however as long as the pilot practices common sense rules he or she was taught.

The fact is that smaller "prop" planes have many more places to land than large jets because there are thousands more small airports that can handle them.

Another fact to consider is that large jets stall at higher speeds than most small planes can fly. (in pilot-speak their Vso is > than the Vne of a small plane.)

While jet operations are exceedingly safe, indeed one of the safest activities you can engage in - in the rare event of an accident, you are more likely to survive a crash in a small "prop" plane because of the much lower speeds.

All in all flying, whether on the airlines, or in general aviation is still much safer than most activities we engage in and very few people actually die from it.

Put into perspective, you are much more likely to die of a heart attack or cancer than in a general aviation accident.

Doug D.
Orlando, FL
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. It's not fear...I'm not scared of flying at all...
It's more the discomfort and air-sickness issue. I can feel every teeny bit of turbulence on a little plane.
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habitual Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
4. Single Engine Land DU'er
158 hours. yeeha.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. We apparently need a GA formum on DU...
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
7. And, while flying
is generally quite safe, the fact is that sometimes planes crash. The death toll from general aviation accidents seems to be in the neighborhood of 600-650 people per year in this country. I have no idea how that works out on a per mile, or more likely per hundred thousand miles, but the vast majority of people who set off in a small plane arrive safely.

Commercial aviation is even safer, of course.

Around 40,000 people die each year in car accidents, and most of us get in a car every day and don't really worry about it.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. 600-650 is high..
http://www.ntsb.gov/aviation/Table1.htm

For 2005:

U.S. general aviation
1,669 321 562 557

GA is very safe and getting safer all the time.

It will never be as safe as the airlines but let's put it in perspective...you are much more likely to die of a heart attack or cancer than a GA trip... shall we ban the Big Macs now?

The news media only does this because plane crashes make for visually spectacular footage, not because there is any epidemic of crashes occurring.

Indeed I saw CNN show a GA plane put down with gear problems recently and they seemed rather disappointed that nothing happened. I assume they were hoping for a fiery crash. I'm glad the pilot disappointed them.

The media are a bunch of ghouls when it comes to aviation reporting. They did the same with the commercial airliner that had a gear problem about 6 months ago and again nothing happened.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
9. Medical mistakes claim 98,000 American lives each year
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-05-17-medical-...

Yet general aviation is the problem we should be worring about at 562 deaths of which 557 were on board the plane?

That means that only 5 non-passenger bystanders were killed in the entire nation all year by general aviation accidents!

I guess it's hard to show these mistakes on your local news at 11...

Doug D.
Orlando, FL
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