Fatal Accident Rates for Instrument-Rated Private Pilots

The general aviation fatality rate is 82 times the rate of commercial passenger transport and now accounts for 94% of civil aviation fatalities in the United States. The rate is even higher for aeromedical transportation. An instrument rating (IFR) for private pilots offers safety advantages by enhancing skills in controlling the aircraft and by forecasting meteorological conditions. As of 2012, 28% of all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified private pilots held an instrument rating. This study attempts to determine the causes of fatal crashes for IFR-rated private pilots over a 10-year period (2002-2011) by conducting a statistical analysis of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data. Results showed that overall, the fatality rate decreased by 55% for flights in instrument conditions, but that there was an increased fatality rate for pilots greater than 65 years of age. Common causes of fatal crashes in reduced visibility were instrument approach deficiency (IAD), spatial disorientation/failure to maintain control (SD/FMC), and failure to maintain obstacle/terrain clearance (FMOTC). Frequent causes under visual conditions were FMOTC, engine/airframe malfunction, and aerodynamic stall. At night, fatal crashes involving FMOT and IAD were more frequent. The study calls for a focus on training IFR-rated private pilots in specific areas of greatest concern.


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  • Accession Number: 01529257
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 30 2014 9:41AM