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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:26 AM
Original message
Small planes aren't big risk
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 08:28 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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Jacobin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
1. Sure it is:
There are 6.83 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours in general aviation compared to 0.171 fatalities per 100,000 flight hours in commercial aviation. See NTSB stats below:

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviation/Table1.htm

That being said, if someone wants to learn to fly and buy a plane, I wouldn't stand in their way. Its a personal choice. But that first 400 hours or so of a pilot's learning curve is very very dangerous.

I've flown a lot in general aviation planes as a passenger and not a pilot over the last 25 years. We've had some close calls with weather, engine problems and actually went off the end of a runway when the brakes didn't work and wrecked a 421 Cessna (no serious injuries, btw).

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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Of course GA is less safe than airline operations..duh..
What's your point?

We do a lot more take offs and landings than they do. our equipment isn't as good and we generally don't have the same levels of experience and GA also includes activities like:

banner towing,
utility line inspections,
firefighting
police and rescue helicopter operations
news helicopters
and
crop dusting.

That said, it is far safer than most activities and you are much more likely to die of a heart attack or cancer than in a GA accident.

Should we ban Big Macs and cigarettes?

Doug D.

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Jacobin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Did you read my post?
I said I had no problem with it. Its a risky hobby, but I've flown with GA pilots more times that I like to remember. If someone wants to fly, fine.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. But it's NOT a risky hobby..that's my complaint..
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #1
13. We're talking "crashes like this" - not "fatal accidents"
Yes it was a fatal accident, but not every fatal accident is a crash like this. Fact is that a small plane crashing in a building in a metropolian area is very rare.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. As far as I know not since 2002
with the Italian crash at the Pirelli Bldg or the intentional suicide by the 16 y/o in Tampa.

Doug D.
Orlando, FL
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RebelOne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
2. I agree 100%. I have flown small planes in South Florida, but gave it up
before I got my license. It was just getting too expensive. I never once felt unsafe flying solo. I had a couple of near mishaps, but they were due to my error. Most small plane accidents, I believe are because of pilot error.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:07 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. This is true...
I haven't flown in the last couple years because of the high prices, particularly here in Florida and particularly with the recent high gas prices.

I used to be able to rent a plane in Tennessee for $36/hr wet.

Down here I would be lucky to find something for $80/hr wet.


Doug D.
Orlando, FL
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catmandu57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:28 AM
Response to Original message
5. I was in a Cessna during a terrific thunderstorm at night
Scared shitless. There was lightning and thunder, air pockets that tossed us anyway they wanted up down sideway it was scary, but whether through dumb luck or the pilots skill we passed through and landed safely.
Accidents happen, that's all this was a tragic accident.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Agreed.
This was an accident...

Nobody should intentionally fly through a thunderstorm and with flight following or an instrument flight plan and with a good weather briefing, no one ever should have to.

Sorry about your experience but it is not typical or even common.

Doug D.
Orlando, FL
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lectrobyte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
7. Accidents happen, but a Cirrus like a bad choice for a new pilot.
Seems kind of like giving a Corvette to a new driver.

http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/cirrus-sr20

excerpting a bit:

Cirrus has marketed its airplanes to generic rich guys (i.e., nonpilots) with ads in generic rich guy magazines, a strategy that Beech, Cessna, and Piper pursued in the 1970s but gave up when airplanes went out of mass production and yuppies decided that flying themselves around was too dangerous. Cirrus's advertising stresses the enhanced safety provided by the airframe parachute and the computer screens showing the airplane's position relative to airports, mountains, weather, etc. The combination of novice pilots and a fast airplane has resulted in a mournful accident record that is reflected in high insurance rates and recurrent training requirements similar to what you'd find on a twin-engine plane or pressurized single.
If the engine were to quit over water or the mountains at night, the parachute would be a nice feature indeed. However, mechanical failures are not a very common cause of small airplane crashes, and the Cirrus has some features, to be discussed in this review, that make it more prone to pilot-induced crashes than a Diamond or Cessna.

Aside from the parachute, the Cirrus has a fair number of pro-safety features: (1) modern 26G safety cockpit, (2) angled firewall on the G2 models (introduced Fall 2004) to encourage skidding rather than crunching on a nose-first landing, (3) four-point seatbelts, (4) good visibility, (5) highly redundant electrical supply.

In terms of avoiding an accident, one problem with the Cirrus is its unforgiving handling compared to other basic four-seaters. The plane is harder to keep level with rudders in a stall than a Cessna or Diamond; if in a deep uncoordinated stall, the Cirrus wants to drop a wing and go into a spin. Thanks to a "split-airfoil" wing design, in which the inner portion of the wing has a higher angle of attack than the outer portion, the Cirrus gives more of a stall buffet warning than many airplanes. The outer portion of the wings, which are in front of the ailerons, are still flying and permitting the pilot to control roll with the yoke, even as the inner sections of the wings may be stalled and creating a warning buffet. This illustrates one of the advantages of composite construction; you could build a metal wing like this, but it would be very costly. For pilots accustomed to learning about an impending stall by feeling reduced airloads on the flight controls, the Cirrus provides much less stall warning. This is due to spring cartridges that continue to resist flight control movement even when the airplane is not moving. In other words, the flight controls feel similar whether you're flying or stalled.

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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. He was new in real world time but he had about 400 hours
which is twice as much as I have after 10 years of flying. Of course he could afford to fly as much as he wanted...

I agree that rich guys tend to buy a lot more plane than they can handle and this can lead to accidents.

JFK, Jr. had a Saratoga which is a lot of plane for a guy with only 300 hours.

Doug D.
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lectrobyte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. 400 hours is a lot. I thought I'd heard he'd only been flying for six
months or so, so I assumed more like 40. And he did have an instructor with him, too.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Nice to be able to fly as much as you want...
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