John Mahany with plane

Looking back at 2021

As is reported in the Safety Trends story in the December 2021 issue of Plane & Pilot Magazine, looking back, what can be learned from the accident record?

The good news, GA flying is getting safer. Is there any bad news? Well, the accident rate has not changed or improved much lately. Is that bad? Well, it’s not getting any better. It’s basically been flat for several years. The reports cover the years up through 2020. It’s too soon to know anything about last year. And there was the terrible accident literally at years end on December 31, when a medivac Learjet, crashed while maneuvering to land, at night, in marginal conditions, at San Diego’s Gillespie Field. All onboard perished.

In the Safety Trends story, is there a typical accident? While accident reports vary widely, it generally comes down to pilot error, or a mechanical problem. After that, its’ weather, which could be continued flight into IMC conditions, with a pilot who is not instrument rated. The results of this are usually fatal. According to statistics, 66% of accidents are related to pilot error, 18% are mechanical, and the remaining 16% are something else.

There’s really nothing new here. We continue to make the same mistakes. Complacency sets in and we see the same mistakes being made over and over. It’s cycle that repeats itself, with alarming regularity. What can be done about that? Hard to say.

Some pilots are simply more safety conscious than others. This is just human nature. And some people are more conscientious than others. Many pilots will only do the minimum to stay current, if that. Egos get in the way: “I don’t need this!’. This mindset is hard to change. So, with that said, our challenge is to find a way to change this way of thinking, if possible.

What are your thoughts on any of this? This is not rocket science. What can be done to make a change in the thought process of some, who will likely be the culprits that cause an accident?

1 reply
  1. Yvonne Guerra
    Yvonne Guerra says:

    What is the “cost” of pilot error? Should errors be quantified in terms of money? If I know I’m going to be fined $400 for making the mistake of parking in the disabled parking stall, I won’t do it. Perhaps certain segments of the piloting community need to be subjected to hefty fines. Otherwise it appears the government is rewarding scofflaws.

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