Al Marsh

Are most fog-related accidents fatal?

March 30, 2010 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Roughly three-fourths of the time, aircraft accidents in fog are fatal, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) has discovered. There is no clearcut “fog” category in the accident statistics studied by the AOPA ASF, so the term “fog” must necessarily include “obscuration, ” and “below minimums.” Included in the AOPA ASF review were pilots on IFR flight plans, those on VFR flight plans, and those not on a flight plan. Here’s what David Kenny, the AOPA ASF researcher for accident statistics, discovered.

Those on no flight plan who had an accident that included the above weather conditions between 1998 and 2007 led the fatal category with 203 fatalities. But those on IFR flight plans came in second with 106. Those on VFR flight plans were much lower, with only 49 fatalities over the nine-year period.

Part 91 operations in fog, obscuration, and below minimums conditions led the statistics with 340 fatalities. In second place were charter operators with only 38 fatalities.

What’s the conclusion? Kenny has these observations: “The relatively low number of fog accidents [for aircraft] on VFR flight plans–and the high number on flights that didn’t file any–probably says something about the risk attitudes and flight practices of the pilots involved. IFR pilots are expecting low visibility, so reports of fog won’t necessarily deter them from trying the approach, but it [fog] will make things get bad in a hurry if [the pilot] gets off course or goes below minimums.”

5 Responses to “Are most fog-related accidents fatal?”

  1. Andre Durocher Says:

    I am going to install an infrared camera to help me see through the clouds and in the dark.

    This not so expensive accessory can save a lot of lives.

    Andre Durocher.

  2. John M. White, ATP Says:

    As a former insurance agent and current pilot I find this an interesting post. Very often I have said that accidents generally start before takeoff with the attitude of the pilot.

    The fact that the majority of VFR fog accidents occurred when no VFR flight plans were filed probably says a lot about the pilots attitude towards safety.


    John M. White, ATP

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