Have you heard of Air Force One having an accident – no?
And how often do we hear of a major US airline having an accident? How about a US crewed and US maintained corporate aircraft?
So why is it that General Aviation has such a poor accident record in comparison to the airlines, or corporate aviation?
Yes, they have a crew of two, usually two or more turbine engines and receive refresher training, every 6 months for the captain and at least every 12 months for the first officers. They enjoy excellent maintenance, have someone looking over their weight & balance, their routing, their fuel load and have a policy, or a checklist for nearly every thing that comes up. They have radar to help them avoid Thunderstorms, de & anti-ice equipment to fly into icing conditions.
What can we do to nearly get close to their safety record? We may not be able to have a crew of two or two turbine engines, or have someone else looking over our weight & balance, we may not be able to climb as high as they to fly over the majority of weather but there is a lot we can do. We can
- have someone looking over our route with us to help avoid weather – FSS
- have nexrad to plan ahead to avoid serious weather
- have radar equipment to avoid thunderstorms enroute
- use the de & anti-ice equipment to extricate ourselves from light to moderate icing conditions
- have the aircraft maintained to the highest standards
- receive training once or twice a year.
- maintain proper airspeed while maintaining proper altitude/rate of climb or descent.
But how do we ensure that we use good judgment? How do we avoid getting into the get-there-on-time trap?
So many accidents happen when simple (stupid) mistakes are made.
- Attempting to takeoff on too short a runway with the weight, temperature and winds against us
- continuing into deteriorating weather
- Running out of fuel, crashing just a few miles short of a runway – I was hoping I had enough to make it.
- Yielding to the temptation to descend below DH when we see just a little bit of ground contact
Training helps us know our airplane, training helps us become more precise pilots, training helps us understand traps that we can get ourselves into, training gives us distractions or simulates failures to see how we would do in the real world but do we actually practice good decision making once we’re back on our own when no one is watching over our shoulders?
Those of you who’ve been involved in sports have heard the phrase – train the way you want to play (fly), play (fly) the way you were trained.
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