Monday, March 24, 2008


Examining National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports and other accident research can help assess risk more effectively. For example, the accident rate during night VFR decreases by nearly 50 percent once a pilot obtains 100 hours, and continues to decrease until the 1,000-hour level. The data suggest that for the first 500 hours, pilots flying VFR at night might want to establish higher personal limitations than are required by the regulations and, if applicable, apply instrument flying skills in this environment.

Studies also indicate the types of flight activities that are likely to result in the most serious accidents. The majority of fatal general aviation accidents fall under the categories of takeoff/initial climb, maneuvering flight, approaches, and weather. Delving deeper into accident statistics can provide some important details that can help in understanding the risks involved with specific flying situations. For example, maneuvering flight is one of the largest single producers of fatal accidents. In the approach phase, fatal accidents often happen at night or in IFR conditions. Takeoff/initial climb accidents frequently are due to the pilot's lack of awareness of the effects of density altitude on airplane performance or other improper takeoff planning resulting in loss of control during, or shortly after takeoff. The majority of weather-related accidents occur after attempted VFR flight into IFR conditions.

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