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Updated February 18, 2020
General aviation is a broad category covering any non-commercial civilian air transportation. The types of flying that could fit this description vary greatly, and this diversity is exemplified in the United States, where the general aviation community is the largest in the world.
Unfortunately, accidents involving general aviation aircraft are often fatal.
Based on data from general aviation accidents between 2001 and 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has listed the following ten causes of fatal general aviation accidents as the most common.
Mainly referencing engine stalls, a loss of control during flight can easily lead to a fatal general aviation accident.
This category references controlled flights into terrain. For example, when the aircraft impacts the ground or a pilot attempts to land in the wrong place.
A systems component failure involving the powerplant—the engine of the airplane—is essentially engine failure.
If an aircraft runs out of fuel, the plane could stop working midair. Additionally, if the fuel is contaminated, the pilot may not be able to plan for an increased burn rate and, as a result, run out of fuel too soon.
Sometimes, the agencies that investigate aviation accidents don’t have the evidence or information required to determine the cause of the accident.
In cases where a system component other than the powerplant fails, the accident would fall into this category. An example would include a misfunctioning altitude indicator.
Severe weather-related conditions could require pilots to fly via instruments rather than visual indicators. Most general aviation accidents related to meteorological conditions are fatal.
Collisions during flight often occur near airports or airfields.
When attempting to land the plane or otherwise maneuvering the aircraft at a low altitude, accidents can happen. Examples include the wingtip hitting the ground or the aircraft skimming the top of a hill or tall structure.
The previous nine causes of general aviation accidents are most common, but other causes occur as well.
The good news: General aviation accident rates are on the decline. The bad news: Fatalities still occur.
From 2010 to 2016, the FAA recorded the following fatal general aviation accident data:
Additionally, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the general aircraft industry contributes over $150 billion in economic activity, and of the estimated 600,000 pilots in the United States, more than 500,000 fly general aviation aircraft.
Our staff includes two licensed pilots with a wide range of ratings and experience. Our licensed attorney pilots hold a commercial license, flight engineer certificate, instrument and multi-engine aircraft ratings as well as flight experience in Boeing 727s and many private aircraft.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of an aviation accident, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Aviation Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
FAQs What Are the Common Causes of General Aviation Accidents?Request a Free Consultation
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