Epidemiological Study of Fatal and Non-Fatal Glider Accidents in the US, 2001-2005

Although gliders have become increasingly popular over the past few decades, glider accidents are not well-represented in aviation crash studies. This study seeks to determine factors typical to fatal and nonfatal glider accidents and applies these findings to suggest preventive measures and improvements. A retrospective review of data was conducted from National Transportation Safety Board glider accident reports from 2001-2005. In this period, 26 fatal and 117 nonfatal glider accidents were reported. Factors contributing to accidents frequently depended on the flight phase in which the accident occurred. Pilot error in flight planning and aircraft control was the most frequent cause of accidents. Fatal accidents were always pilot-related and mostly occurred during the cruise phase. Blunt trauma effectuated by high acceleration forces during vertical impact was the primary cause of death. Fatal accidents were more likely to occur in amateur-built gliders. Adverse weather conditions were the cause of 20% of all accidents, but resulted in no fatalities. The findings suggest amateur-built glider owners need to be better educated regarding glider specifications and design. Further research also is needed regarding inflatable protection gear suited to compensate high deceleration forces at impact in glider crashes.

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  • Authors:
    • Van Doorn, Robert R
    • Zijlstra, Fred R H
  • Publication Date: 2006


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01091373
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 16 2008 12:11PM