Issues related to distracted driving, including the use of Smartphone apps, texting behind the wheel and other forms of distraction have received a great deal of public awareness in recent years. In February, this blog reported that the National Transportation Safety Board put out a nationwide call for drivers to disconnect from electronic devices while in the car. The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration view driving a car and flying a plane from different perspectives. In fact, the FAA has authorized Smartphone apps to allow pilots to keep up-to-the-minute on weather conditions, according to the Insurance Journal.
NTSB statistics show that fatal aviation accidents involving privately operated aircraft have declined recently, with recorded deaths in 2015 falling to the lowest level in 20 years. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association recently released a report showing a 17.8 percent decline in fatal aviation crashes involving private planes in the three-year period in 2015 as compared to the previous three years. The association believes that the decline is related to improvements in pilot training and safety devices such mobile weather apps.
Safety organizations and federal agencies do not track private flights as abundantly as they do with commercial operations, according to the Insurance Journal. The FAA continues to work to improve fight safety. Leading causes of aviation accidents include pilot error (including pilot mistakes combined with bad weather), other human error, bad weather itself, and mechanical failure, according to planecrashinfo.com. The FAA has conducted numerous studies and has worked to make it easier to install electronic warning system on planes.
While the AOPA believes that improvements in airplane safety technology, including crash-avoidance devices, has resulted in the recent decline in fatal accidents, the association acknowledges that the number of privately operated flights has declined in recent years making the statistical analysis less clear. The AOPA data does not include statistics involving helicopters. The association tracked fatal airplane accidents involving aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds. The FAA says that 376 people perished in 229 private airplane accidents in 2016.
Sources: Insurance Journal, “Mobile Apps Help Lower Fatal Private Plane Crashes,” by Alan Levin, Aug. 12, 2016; Planecrashinfo.com, “Causes of Fatal Accidents,” last accessed Aug. 22, 2016