July 2010 started very badly, domestically, for GA pilots.
On Thursday, there were three accidents and all involved fatalities. That’s highly unusual. The normal ratio is about one in five.
- In Perry, Kansas a Beech F33A on an IFR flight reported losing an engine at 7,000 feet and radar contact was lost at 1,000. Two lost.
- On Catalina Island in California, a Cessna 182 pilot reported numbness on his right side and a possible heart attack. The aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain . One lost.
- A Commercial pilot flying a Cessna 152 made what appears to be a very hard landing in Venice, California. He then apparently decided to try again and after rolling 1,000′ took off in a shallow climb before losing control and landing on a golf course. Stall, airframe or control damage are unknown at this time. One lost.
- A T-6 over the Gulf of Mexico apparently spun out of a low altitude loop impacting the water. One lost.
- An experimental exhibition/air racing Schleicher ASW-20 glider, crashed near Pocahontas, IL – no details. One lost.
- A Cessna 172P with just over 1,655 hours total time went down near Chesapeake, VA. The ATP pilot reported a flight control failure to ATC. The NTSB investigation showed the aileron control column interconnect cable had fractured chain links near the left control column sprocket . One lost.
- A Cirrus SR22 crashed at Caldwell, NJ after what appeared to be an unstabilized approach followed by several prop strikes and an attempted go- around. Three lost.
- A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed in Marion ,Ky during agricultural spray operations after colliding with a guy wire. One lost.
- In Keller, WA a Cessna 150 collided with wires on takeoff. The student pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. One lost.
Thirteen fatalities in 6 days. Please bear in mind that all these reports are preliminary so details may change – that’s my disclaimer. Now we can speculate! Look at the diversity of possible causal factors: Control failure, engine failure, a medical incapacitation, a couple of bad landings and possible botched go-arounds, two wire strikes, and aerobatic mishap, and a wild card where we have no idea -yet.
This reflects the broad categories of flight operations that is GA and all the different things that we do with aircraft. The aircraft are different, the environments are quite different, the pilots are certainly different in skill levels. Now, after reading this, tell me again why we should be comparing light GA flight operations with the airlines and corporate flight operations that are strikingly similar in almost every aspect? Apples to kumquats – any way you choose to jumble the fruit basket the differences are massive.
This is not to make excuses because on final reports it will become clearer that humans made mistakes. We do that. The value is in learning what happened and add it to our safety tool kit. Will we make it perfectly safe – no! Can we do better? I think so.
What do you think?