Features

January 2010 Issue

Reasons Behind Fatal Accidents

Our sweep of fatal accident reports reveals that stall-related incidents and CFIT are the major killers. All are avoidable.

Some pilots are, by nature, worriers. They worry about fuel, about engine failures, about hazardous weather, about midair collisions. Bluntly, pilots worry about things that can kill them. But do they worry about the right things? In other words, does the risk framework that most of us construct in our personal aviation universe reflect the reality of the serious killers in aircraft accidents? Our guess is that it does not, unless pilots are out there really sweating about stalls, spins and controlled flight into terrain. And even if the pilot population is wide awake about these hazards, it could do a better job of avoiding them. Stalls and CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) pop up as the two biggies in fatal accidents in general aviation to a degree that, frankly, startles us.

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