Emergency Highway Landings in General Aviation and the Possible Role of Media Reports

To examine the causes and factors of airplane landings on highways and the dangers to occupants of vehicles on the ground. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board online database provided 133 accidents involving a highway landing dating from 2000 to 2013. Supplemental information was sought in online media archives, which reported on 53 of these accidents. Collisions with highway-related objects, other options for landing, and witness accounts were added categories extracted from the narrative statements and media reports. Highway landings occur mostly due to mechanical failures, ineffective preflight or in-flight planning, and fuel exhaustion, in addition to a lack of alternate landing options for a pilot of a fixed-wing aircraft. Most of the landings (N = 108) lead to minor or no injuries at all. A significant proportion of 7 out of 19 collisions with powerlines resulted in a fatality, as opposed to other types of accidents. Collisions with motor vehicles (N = 29) caused minor (N = 23) and serious (N = 2) injuries to people on the ground. Main online media archives covered less than half of all accidents (39.8%). While highway landings are not a recommended landing alternative, mitigation strategies should include a focus on avoiding powerlines and vehicles on the ground. Unfortunately, online media archives are not yet a consistent source of information for general aviation accidents.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01641323
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2017 3:44PM