November 2009 Issue

Is It Safe?

Managing the risk of flying personal aircraft can be as simple as a bit more takeoff/landing practice, making sure we have fuel and avoiding poor weather.

Anyone whos spent much time flying personal aircraft has been asked this question: Is it safe? As a rule, the answer is, "It depends." Because safety is relative, sitting at home can be the safest course of action. But its usually not very rewarding, and sitting at home makes it much more difficult to travel in a personal aircraft. Beginning on page 24 of this issue, we look at a recent accident the NTSB attributed to low-level maneuvering. In critiquing that accident, we referred to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (AOPA/ASF) and its most recent Nall Report, an annual in-depth look at GA accident trends. The data in those annual reports is very intriguing; so much so, we thought wed examine some of it more closely. We wanted to pose the question, "Is it safe to do X?" when X is some operation, maneuver or decision made by a GA pilot. While every operation and skill level is different, what we really wanted to do is highlight some of the areas in which GA pilots routinely bend metal, with the idea of using the 2007 Nall Report, the most recent available, and its findings to demonstrate why doing what youre about to do might not be a good idea.

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