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Unfit for flight: Hidden defects linked to small-aircraft crashes over five decades

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Nearly 45,000 people have been killed over the past five decades in private planes and helicopters — almost nine times the number that have died in airline crashes — and federal investigators have cited pilots as causing or contributing to 86% of private crashes. But a USA TODAY investigation shows repeated instances in which crashes, deaths and injuries were caused by defective parts and dangerous designs, casting doubt on the government's official rulings and revealing the inner workings… (www.usatoday.com) 기타...

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davysims
The USA Today is notorious for its hit pieces on aviation. They come armed with a few facts supporting their theory that aviation is highly dangerous and should be regulated out of existence. They must be owned by the railroads.
andrewstagg
AOPA responded to this article this morning: http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2014/June/18/USA-Today-report-extremely-flawed-AOPA-says.aspx
GuamPilot
I just read the whole article, all 3 parts.

My first impression is that it is a total anti-GA hack job. The writers obviously think that all small planes are dangerous.

More important, they intentionally write to make things sound not just bad, but in the worst possible light, without any regard to being fair.

They point out that the manufacturers are involved in investigating GA accidents. Guess what? The manufacturers are heavily involved in investigating airline accidents.

I'm tired of so many people, lead by hacks like the USA Today, who always portray private enterprise (manufacturers) as inherently untrustworthy, if not evil. Yet when they point to the NTSB, they are implying the only good solution is to make the government larger.

The USA Today repeatedly point out that there have been 9 times as many GA deaths as airlines in the last 50 years. Fine, why not dig up the statistic on how many times more "amateur" driver caused deaths there have been as opposed to the professionals driving buses and taxis?

The USA points to court decisions that contradict NTSB findings. Like our legal system is perfect and always comes to the truth? NEWS FLASH! There were legitimate reasons Congress granted liability relief in 1994. I will submit that our courts still get aviation wrong too many times.

What is the major impediment to GA manufacturers making existing airplanes and helicopters safer? While a big part is the increased risk of liability in our sue-happy legal system, the cost for FAA certification of existing designs is prohibitive.

The unreasonable costs of FAA approved changes would be an interesting article. Or how many times the courts got it wrong? But those would involve some real investigative reporting, something these hacks are incapable of.
toadtal
I read the article in its entirety and found it to be interesting. I do admit that there is a fair amount of sensationalism and certainly a focus on the negative aspects of accident statistics. I did, however, I found my response to the article somewhat eye opening. I am the only pilot in my family. My grandfather likes to call to my attention, any recent crashes that have happened. My usual response is usually two-fold, first I will say "well how many people have died in car accidents since then?" Second, I will usually take a cursory examination of the situation around the crash and say that it was likely pilot error because that pilot probably did X when obviously he should have done Y. I always remind them about how we train all the time for things to go wrong, and how we always have a plan. Reading the article, lead to some self reflection as I wondered, how much of what I say is simply regurgitating dogma, and how much is actually true. I'm a relatively low time GA pilot, and prior to reading the article, I was aware of how certification of aircraft worked and that many of the aircraft produced today were not certified in the Part 23 era. I recognize that changes are on the horizon, which will hopefully lead to increased safety and decreased cost. I was disturbed, however, to read about how cursory the NTSB's examination of most GA crashes was. I never realized that there were only 48 regional investigators. I have on my own time, prior to this article, read through a bunch of NTSB findings of GA crashes because I'm a nerd and remember reading that the report is basically a narrative of what caused the crash, with examination as to what caused the fatalities. Yes, it is true that all fatalities would be eliminated if crashes were eliminated but survivability is something that we should also strive for. I think that the two questions we should take away from that article are, "are we doing enough, quickly enough?" and "How can we make crashes in the current GA fleet more survivable?"
microflight
Jason gives more credit to the article than it might deserve. The article uses anecdotal and cherry picked statistics to make an expository case. Having said that, no has mentioned that from 90-98% of the accidents overwhelming cause is the pilot. This is not to bash pilots but to demonstrate that human beings are limited in their ability to timely process data in critical situations. This is also true for airline. As well as general aviation pilots. The safety gains have come from automation technology assistance. The real question should be why is the focus on 2-10% of faults rather on the 90+%.

As for manufacturers liability, the tort law involved uses the principle of joint and several liability rather than comparative liability that many states use for automobile liability and damage determinations. The 1990s limitation to 18 years was a compromise albeit akin to don't ask don't tell. If a manufacturer is a fraction of a percent responsible for what could be related to an accident or at least convincing a jury of that fact with a very technical argument, the manufacture is responsible for all of the damages. This rule may not be fair but looks to a deep pocket to provide compensation.

James Meer, Microflight
JohnTownsley
Actually, the number of accidents that have a maintenance root cause is quite high... bordering on 20%. You might argue that the "pilot screwed up" the emergency procedures - which is true in SOME cases. Often (for example, an engine failure at night) the odds are stacked against the pilot regardless of whether every step of the mechanical failure is executed faithfully and with precision. To assert, worse BELIEVE, that our machines are error free is unhelpful. Regardless of how hard manufacturers work to put out a reliable product, it's still a statistical game. For every bit of increased reliability we pay an increasingly high premium in terms of purchase price and maintenance. It all boils down to risk, risk management, and what my (or YOUR) personal risk preference might be.
the05jerms
"You mean to tell me that someone in mainstream media allowed his preconceived notions and uninformed perceptions bias his work? Say it isn't so..."
dmanuel
dmanuel 7
Gee, I wonder if usatoday would apply their far reaching journalist skills to an investigation of automobile accidents over the same time period and support a retroactive mandidate of manufacture support (and of course mandatory compliance by every vehicle owner). I wonder how far the support of the general public go. I am betting not far.
cm5299
Chuck Me 1
Not sure if you are in the US or not. However, there has been quite the saga in the media the last few months about auto manufacturers and them not recalling vehicles that probably should have been. These lack of recalls probably caused death. Basically the auto version of this article.

Google "GM ignition switch recall" for more information.
btweston
btweston 1
Actually there has been a lot in the news about faulty cars. This article, however, is about planes.
13Defender
All USA Today is interested in is generating clicks to their site, which allow them to bill advertisers more money. Had they been interested in factual reporting they would have contact AOPA, NBAA and/or GAMA before writing an article that was clearly inflammatory and sensationalist. Pilot Jeff Schweitzer writes an excellent piece titled "Unfit for Publication: How USA Today Got Everything Wrong - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/unfit-for-publication-how_b_5509253.html

[This poster has been suspended.]

raleedy
DC-10 much?
skylab72
skylab72 1
Thought the cargo door issue was the L1011, could it be all three?
egad
US skies are the safest in the world largely because we have the best air traffic control system in the world, and the best controllers. Today I waited patiently in the HOT sun for about 10 minutes while one of our local tower controllers helped a disoriented pilot land safely. I didn't really mind the wait because I knew that the same excellent service will be there when I need it. Thanks, Guys and Gals. Dr. Jim.
skylab72
skylab72 2
USA Today sensationalism is well known, after all how else do they remain alive as a national print media? HOWEVER, aviation safety is not well served by a bloated self serving bureaucracy(FAA), riddled with conflict of interest. Lawyers and insurance companies routinely settle cases on bad information because the cost of a complete and impartial investigation does not add to their likelihood of winning. The bottom line is simply that people die from unintended consequences, while the trade-offs in aviation design and operations are usually resolved in favor of speed or ROI. How much are you willing to pay it improve the chance you survive your next flight by 10%?
ldoord
Just checked the FAA wed site so far from 29 May to 21 June there have been 106 GA and a couple reported COMAIR related aircraft accident or incidents resulting in 19 deaths. I was actually shocked that there were that many in a 30 day period. Not sure what the annual accident rate is per flight hour across general aviation is, but I'm sure it is a good telling story for GA safety. When I was 6 years old I was told its safer to fly than drive a very true statement 52 years later. Any Aviation related occurrence gets high visibility that normally does not last long and each accident/incident has its own facts that must be figured out. Fact based data is the true story teller for each and every event. KEEP YOU KNOTS UP!!!! AND WASTE NO RUNWAY BEHIND YOU, NOR AHEAD OF YOU....
AirBalance
My take on this article ... I liked it. I think it speaks to the truth of an important problem in aviation: that we, as pilots or non-pilots, can not and should not trust FAA or even NTSB in the work we want to believe they are doing. I did not see this series as a hit-job against general aviation; I saw it as a light being shined upon the rampant greed that causes the money in aviation to nearly always blame the dead pilot while protecting the manufacturers, the controllers (that's what I did for 22 years), the airlines, and the regulators.

I agree with the comment that it is a bit shocking to look at the accident data for a month and see, wow, there were that many crashes, and that many fatalities? The media barely covers these accidents. A month or so ago, a commercial helo pilot got out of his helicopter near Grand Canyon to do a 'fluid check' while leaving the engine running. Supposedly, the aircraft moved, hit him, killed, and produced an accident. News covered it for about one day ... because NOBODY in media wants to shine a light that will undermine an industry, such as hauling foreign tourists from Vegas to the Grand Canyon area. Those of us who think aviation accidents are biased toward over-reporting should look again, more closely, and they will see it is actually quite the opposite.

Aviation is great. But it can be safer, and would be if FAA (and NTSB, too) abandoned their ongoing condition of severe regulatory capture and instead fulfilled the mission they were created to do. That, to me, was the main thread in this good article.
bbabis
bbabis 1
Jeff, if you truly looked into a months worth of accidents and looked at the facts you would see that pilots are the main cause. VFR into IFR, Loss of control on T/O or Lndg, flight into convective activity, buzzing, and on and on. Manufacturers don't cause these but, with sensationalized grief, lawyers make them pay millions. Millions that can't be used to improve a product if they could. As you know, accidents are almost always a chain of events. The pilot is a link in that chain that failed to break it and wound up breaking the plane. Know your and your aircraft's limitations, check your seat lock several times before T/O & Landg, maintain your aircraft, verify and verify again that required fuel is onboard, pay attention to weather, and these accidents you read about can be reduced. Knowledge, experience, and training will fix the problem. This article ignored all the truth and focused on a few tragic human event cases to sway opinion. A true hit job on GA.
AirBalance
Bill, I will emphatically agree with you that there is a LOT of pilot error and lapse of judgment out there, and a concise study of this can be done be clicking through the chronology of accidents in the NTSB database. If, alternatively, you or I or anyone tied to access FAA's daily accident database to do this analysis, we would find it is exceptionally generalized and shallow, rendering it to be just a waste of data and time. This is what happens to captured regulatory agencies. The article, via subtext and layers of good examples, makes the case that FAA most of all is a dangerously captured agency, to the point of not doing its safety job for decades. As an FAA ATC-Whistleblower who endured a real hit-job (retaliation by FAA officials), I know first-hand how this failure manifests in the towers. And I keep learning more about FAA doing the same hit-jobs against its FAA inspector-Whistleblowers.

You mention lawyers. Or, should I write @!aw%#ers? I do see the innate greed of lawyers as the stinking core of this rotted apple. But, I still must disagree with your assertion that this article is an anti-GA hit job. Take as an example the Robinson Helicopter fuel tank issue, as presented in the article; helicopters should not burst into flames or torch occupants, just because of a hard landing or otherwise minor upset. Yet, this has happened at least a few times, and the article presented this for us to all think about.

I think I saw another comment to this post, where a pilot described how the inverted aircraft he crawled out of after an unfriendly interaction with a dust devil became summarized as 'pilot failure to maintain control', with no mention of the dust devil. This is a good example of how the system inclines toward attributing failures to pilot error, where there is more to it.
Budlake
I could not read much more than the first section. It can hardly be said that the article is impartial; it has been written by a newspaper that has a vested interest in developing stories to sell newspapers. It quotes very large figures without substantiating those numbers. What it failed to say, before I gave up, was that litigation KILLED the GA manufacturers in the 1980s most of the claims were due to pilot error and most of the payouts were made out of court because the manufacturers could not afford the disproportionate and draconian settlements that lawyers and judges were wont to dish out.
The article failed, in the part that I read, to say that GA is much safer in other countries where the very same aircraft are being flown. How is it then that the manufactures are at fault? How is that those defective parts only cause serious accidents in the USA?

Mike
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
How is it that the GA, in your opinion, is much safer in other countries? Since you say "How is it then that the manufacturers are at fault?" are you saying US pilots are the cause? Your point is unclear - at least to me.
bbabis
bbabis 2
It took a while but I suffered through reading the whole thing. What a hit job on something the media knows will always get a rise. You can get big impressive numbers if you take anything back 50 years! They are human made machines operated by humans. Things will always happen. The overall safety record of GA is given a fleeting glance in favor of a few sensationalized accidents and personal injury stories.

Tell any pilot or passenger that you can guarantee them to be .01% safer if you could double their cost of flying and they will tell you to take a long hike. There is a cost assigned to human life and it is evident everywhere every day. Make the national speed limit 25mph and yearly traffic deaths will drop to double digits but there will be a severe monetary hit to our economy. A 100mph speed limit would be too high of a cost in human life. A decision is made somewhere in between. Except for poor health, staying in bed will keep you from being killed in many varied ways but most people accept the risk and decide to live their lives.

As far as the actual accidents go, we are all taught throughout our training how to handle engine failures and other emergencies in whatever we fly because they will happen. I'm sorry, but If a pilot looses control and crashes during the event, it is pilot error. You may be left in a bad situation but you must fly the aircraft until it stops moving. This would save many more lives and reduce injuries more than anything a manufacturer or more government regulation could do. Its about training and knowledge.
tcmarks
Bill, remember with the current mentality in the news media and our own government, something/anything MUST be done to save us from ourselves. Someone in govrnment will come up with a new regulation and tax to 'enforce' the regulation that will take away another freedom from Americans. This same group is mostly anti-GA and does not want just anyone flying around (VFR) so they can travel somewhere without Big Brother knowing where you are going. Sensationalizing GA accidents is the first step in pushing for the removal of this 'privelage' that we currently enjoy. Everyone who votes needs to understand how candidates support (or not) GA and get those who support a fully regulated nanny state out of office.
bbabis
bbabis 1
Well said Tim. Best of luck with your training and fly safe.
JohnTownsley
Agree. Well said. We also have to remember the reason "media" exists: To make a lot of money, either directly from advertising and readership, or indirectly by creating a favorable environment for the industries where owners are invested. "Truth"? What's that got to do with it? "Social responsibility"? Huh? "Accuracy"?... Can anyone spell Zimmerman and the hack job by a certain well known news TV corporation outlet that got him branded as a racist - which - by the way - the Supreme Court just ruled could not be considered "libel"??
LordLayton
One other aspect. The trend in using bogus parts whether knowingly or not, Is a major factor in ALL Types of air crashes and NOT just in the GA arena. Even after a military audit, they found that 80% of the replacement parts on the shelves are/were bogus (Mainly Chinese made). I'm sure a lot of you are aware of the unanswered reasons for erroneous fighter plane failures and bail outs as just one example.
btweston
btweston 3
You guys really need to read before you fly into a defensive tirade. While USA Today is hardly the pinnacle of American journalism, this article points out many instances in which manufacturers defects have caused accidents.

But so many of you seem to want to attack the paper for what it's found. I don't understand that.
yavapaires
As a no longer flying private pilot, I think this article is down right inflammatory against general aviation. Driving is far more dangerous than flying light aircraft. Totally biased article in my opinion.
JohnTownsley
Comparing accident stats between GA (all GA, rotor wing, fixed wing, on demand, ag, corporate, recreational/personal flying lumped together) GA is about as safe as riding a motor cycle. Much more dangerous than driving a car or light pickup! Corporate GA has an accident rate that is only slightly less impressive than Part 121 (airlines). Drop out ag (which has a relatively high rate, rotor wing ops (again, a relatively high rate), and on demand air taxi, and the stats for personal flying don't compare well with driving a car at all! If we throw the EAB folks under the bus then GA SE stats improve a bit (the experimental community is really working hard on lowering their accident and fatality rate to approach that of manufactured aircraft). The data doesn't support assertions that "Driving is far more dangerous than flying light aircraft."
daver328
Defensive tirade? Attack? We would never attack those holy, pure, white as fresh snow, unbiased journalists! (Snicker) we hold them in the highest regard ... knowing we can TRUST THEM TO TELL US THE TRUTH. Journalists are just the best of the best. Just ask anyone!
egad
Yes, I have been the victim of defective parts several times, with little or no factory support, but the few times my life was seriously in danger were due to my own Stupidity. I think USA went a little beyond the limits of responsible journalism. Dr. Jim. CFI 40+ years.
am60s
I think for pilots to rationalize their participation in flight they must have the ability to place the inherent hazards of flying way way back in there minds. Now this includes the sub categories from ultra safe pilots down to the no medical hold outs. The safest pilot or highest time pilot will still die in mid air situation. There are so many things that can go wrong with operating an aircraft that if a pilot was immortal to all that ends life he/she will eventually die from flying.
avihais
Reminded me of the Australasian R22 crashes and the $15,000 NZD (Aprox 13K USD)to retrofit bladders in the fuel tanks. The only reason I mention this because it is a relatively new aircraft. Also not of mention is although there were/are known defects the article does not explore the accident reports, CAA (S), NTSB, AAIB etc. where the "probable cause", contributing factors and/or inclusive results state history of the aircraft, associated accident's etc.

Of course in the US you can sue - many other nations the company (Directors) and/or the manufacturer can be prosecuted but civil suits are rarely successful. Many nations have public accident corporations when medical and rehabilitation costs are paid by taxes.

So the article seems to be biased and sensationalist and does not cover the whole picture, nor the millions of airworthy directives that the GA community do not get or choose to ignore.
egad
Aircraft and automobile manufacturers have one thing in common, profit first. The aircraft industry has a thing called AD for short that is supposed to work much as auto recalls. Neither work very good, but something is better than nothing, perhaps,
egad
The nice thing about private aviation is that we can control our exposure to danger much more than on roads. We don't drive on narrow roads with drunks meeting at a closure rate of 130mph and missing (hopefully) by 2 or 3 ft all day and night in all kinds of weather in our airplanes. We can fly safely or dangerously, depending on our temperament. Yes, most private aircraft accidents are due to "pilot error". Some are due to lack of skill but most are because of doing something foolish, such as a non instrumented rated pilot getting into IFR conditions, or an iR pilot doing the same in an airplane not equipped for IFR flight. Carefully maintained aircraft are also a necessity. We can't park an old junker airplane by the side of the road and hitch hike home. I have survived several foolish actions by the grace of God in my 51+ years of flying and still do stoopid things. Dr. Jim.
racerman
The media is all-in for anything they can find negative or controversial. It's doubtful that they got information from those who they attempt to vilify. They also failed to mention that the total number of airplane fatalities in the last 50 years is about the same as the number of traffic deaths EVERY YEAR. The fact remains that the number one cause of private aircraft fatalities is non-instrument-rated pilots flying into bad weather. The facts are very clear that most crashes are caused , at least in part, by pilot error, many times by pilot stupidity. Most media personnel don't even know what makes an airplane fly, much less what makes one crash.
toadtal
Yeah, but traffic deaths every year would be a lot higher, if your car burst into flames after a fender bender.
btweston
btweston 0
You're right... They probably didn't get the information from the people who made the faulty components. What's your point?

And so what if airplane fatalities are the same as traffic fatalities? Perhaps if manufacturers weren't turning out shoddy product aviation would be a lot safer, right?

And to your last non sequitur, pilot error has nothing to do with this piece, as pilot error has nothing to do with:

• Helicopter fuel tanks that easily rupture and ignite, causing scores of people to be burned alive after low-impact crashes that were otherwise survivable;

• Pilot seats that suddenly slide backward, making airplanes nose-dive when pilots lose grip of the controls.

• Airplane exhaust systems that leak exhaust gas, causing engine fires.

Etc.
spdmrcht
Several years ago our Local Sheriffs Dept, was shopping for another
Helicopter. They picked a Robinson. I did a search on the NTSB web site.
I could not believe how many of them had fallen out of the sky's! That
is an eye opener! I sent a letter to Our local Co. Supervisors and
newspaper with the results of my search. To no avail, they still bought one,
and it is still Flying. I still go outside when I hear it coming, it's loud.
God's Speed!
krperry
I remember my dad getting a pin across the skyhawk seat rail to limit travel back in the 70's - not '83 as the article states. Must have been fairly well known issue.
JoeGoebel
Read Paul Bortorelli's commentary on AvWeb - a good perspective on the topic of GA safety and a reasonable rebuttal to the article.
http://www.avweb.com/eletter/archives/101/2838-full.html?ET=avweb:e2838:272586a:&st=email#222192
egad
I wonder about the piloting experience of the author(s). I know that you don't have to be a chicken to fry an egg, but I think they did lay an egg.
JoeGoebel
I'd like to see this reporter try to run ANY manufacturer in any industry for more than a year and not run it into the ground. Maybe if he had a clue what the competitive marketplace was like and the reality of economics, he'd start to actually understand what the hell he is writing about.
The greatest irony to me is that he seems to heap the greatest blame for the safety record on manufacturers failing to own up to their own responsibilities, and yet, it sure seems to me that he's doing exactly that in his article! How about a little OBJECTIVE journalism, pal.
Cbill2fly
USA TODAY: Writes like it is only single engine planes, this is not right. They should do more home work-be more factual. FACT most engine failures is because of no gas to run the engine. Is this the gas company at fault. AND HOW MANY WONDERFUL, BUSINESS, PRODUCTIVE AND FUN FLIGHTS HAVE BEEN FLOWEN OVER THE PAST 50 YEARS??? Why can't there be writings about the good side?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 2
Probably because an uneventful flight has nothing to write about.
jlbrecher
Lets see, 45,000 in 50 years. I question those numbers but How's that compare to highway deaths in that time period. Whatever sells copy!
conmanflyer
Interesting article, but it seems to me, way bias against manufacturers.
bovineone
It places a fair amount of blame on the FAA not taking action on NTSB recommendations too.

I do think it might be beneficial to aircraft owners if manufacturers would have issued non-mandatory recommendations earlier on.

In particular, Cessna's excuse about lacking the manufacturing capacity for the replacement seat rails is odd... I agree that fleet-wide groundings should be avoided, but just make it a phased or initially a non-mandatory service bulletin rather than choosing inaction. Surely some owners would care enough about it to voluntarily perform it initially, before deciding to mandate it on a wider scale.
cm5299
Chuck Me 1
Good points.

Once a manufacturer changes a part or how they do something (based on events related to that part), it opens a can of liability worms. It is wrong IMO, but many times it is easier to just stonewall. Making a change is an acknowledgment that there was a problem. Unfortunately, there may be more legal downside to that decision than safety upside. The GM switch fiasco is exhibit A.
mpradel
Sure, let's see what happens if we decided every car on the road needs to be retrofitted with at least 5 airbags, pre-tensioned seat belts, dual lined Fuel tanks, and lane departure warning.. in the next 12 months or not be allowed to drive on public roads!
Also, Ban any vehicles driving around that don't have ABS or ruin flat tires.
btweston
btweston 4
That's not even close to what this article is talking about. You're supposed to read before you comment.
andrewstagg
This type of journalism is better suited to the National Inquirer than USA Today... I would encourage anyone to read the NTSB report for the Caryn Stewart crash and decide for themselves if the evidence shows it was caused by an inexperienced 73 hour Private Pilot in a high performance airplane who lost control on takeoff or part of some massive conspiracy among aviation manufacturers. The link is here: http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20050330X00382&key=1
AirBalance
I read the report, on your tip. A good example, IMHO.


The most important line is at the end, where it is noted that the aircraft and engine manufacturers were involved in the report and investigation. The most puzzling part is the frequent reference to the smallish lead weights used for c.o.g. balance, but no closure, such as a calculated imbalance or other hazard caused by these weights. The effect is to only imply the weights were an issue. If they were an issue, the NTSB report should have more boldly stated as much, to educate other PA28 owners about the hazard of this practice of using these weights. If the weights were NOT an issue, NTSB should have explicitly stated as much, then drilled down on all design flaws and pilot errors that likely contributed. In general, in this specific NTSB report, that did not happen.

If the regulators and investigators do shoddy work, we all depend on journalists to fill in the gaps ... to inform, so that repeat accidents do not happen.
egad
The people who write accident reports are lawyers, not pilots, and their findings are not realistic. For example: a few years ago I encountered a "dust devil aka whirlwind" while about 20 ft high, on takeoff, in a 900lb aircraft. Of course it turned me every way but loose. I ended up crashing inverted. Fortunately no injuries due to the low speed and altitude. The official cause of the accident was "pilot failed to maintain control of the aircraft". Technically correct, but no mention of the true cause, and no help in helping flight safety as well as adding to the list of misleading statistics. Incidentally. Due to the nice grass on the airport there was no way for me to see the Dust Devil.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Interesting, but confusing. I lived in Arizona for 20 years and am familiar with dust devils. What confuses me is dust devils occur on a raw dirt surface, not grass. If they move toward grass, they dissipate, since there's no longer any dust to fuel it. Straighten out my thinking, will you? Thanks.
egad
As I implied, they are not visible when there is no dust to make them highly visible. They appear to dissipate over grass, or over a paved ramp, but they don't. Just can't see them. I suspect they might die out faster over relatively cool grass , but not suddenly. The day after my accident I watched, from in front of my hangar, as an unfolded newspaper circled about 200ft high over the ramp, the only visible sign of that whirlwind. I thought to myself that was me yesterday. They are just miniature tornadoes. When I was a youngster in Oklahoma we could sometimes see several at the same time on hot days, fortunately not as hot as Arizona!!! Hope I have explained coherently. Jim.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
You have. You are clearly more observant than I - lol. I've only seen dust devils made of dust, although I have seen newspapers being blown. Thanks for taking the time.
smoki
smoki 1
This article by the liberal rag reporter was obviously a hit job which intentionally ignored or dismissed crucial data provided by AOPA in their interview with the reporter none of which he used in his piece. Accordingly, AOPA has responded on their website. Comparing airline accident stats with GA is utter nonsense similar to comparing city bus mass transit with all the individual cars used by the public. This guy had his conclusion already established whence he cherry picked statistics and information so as to bolster his conclusion. That's the easiest form of journalistic reporting there is. He should be demoted to the mail room or the coffee mess.
ArthurNetteler
This is a BULL-SHIT article!!!
genethemarine
All great feedback here.
One must wonder about the 2013' 79,500 plus arrivals
that took place at the Wheeling Chicago-Executive
airport and those private jets as well.
Never a complaint about any flight being 1. Diverted,
2. Evasive Action Taken on glide path, 3. Go-Around
or more. The Great Lakes Regional Air Space is overloaded
now.....wait until NextGen steps in and all of the private
planes who can't upgrade ?
Thanks!
bbilledeaux
Wow and 2 million people have been killed in auto accidents over the same period. Boy our small planes are so unsafe.
jwfbonanza
jwfbonanza -3
Let's get this straight, airplanes 50 years = 45,000 that's 900 per year
versus
AUTOMOBILES, in past 50years = 2,267,420
Big difference.
The most disgusting journalism I ever recall, I'll NEVER buy another USA TODAY.
toadtal
OK, in 2009 there were 254,212,610 cars on the road and roughly 250,000 GA aircraft. If you calculate fatalities based on fleet size that is a ratio of 1 death per 112 cars vs. 1 death per 5.5 aircraft. But that is really a false statistic because most people spend ALOT more time in there cars then in a GA aircraft.
granch22
Well, there goes my instructing career, and your future pilots who can not afford flight training. Welcome UAV commercial operations.
KSjetfixr
Yeah, the old "Cessna Seat Track" story. The issue that keeps on giving (to the trial lawyers). In fact, I'm betting most of this "research" came from the trial lawyers, to "educate the jury pool".

One of the reasons the seat track issue dinged Cessna was because the inspection criteria in the maintenance manuals was "common sense"......."Inspect condition of seat rails".....The problem came because IAs were passing seat rails on annuals, no matter what condition they were in, because they didn't want the owners bitching about the cost of replacing them. So junk rails got the green light, until enough seats slid full aft during a takeoff or climb.

Take a look at anybody's current maintenance manual. The first five paragraphs in any inspection or maintenance procedure are disclaimers, written by the company lawyers. And the inspection criteria has tightened to the "when in doubt at all, R&R" level. No "judgement calls" allowed anymore.

And another thing.......in lawsuits like this, the OEMs always get left holding the S##tbag. Because no one wants to sue friends/relatives for screwing up. And good luck with suing the shop or mechanic.......none of those guys have any money (just ask me). Say there was a $10M judgement, with 50% of the cause being pilot performance, and 5% the OEM. Doesn't matter. since the others can't pay, the OEM gets stuck paying the whole judgement.

So the OEMs have really tightened up on who they sell repair/overhaul manuals to (You can't legally overhaul or repair any components without a "current manual") To the point where the only place you can get most parts is from the OEM, or their authorized vendors. And the fact that being the sole source provider means you can ding your customers for whatever you think you can get away with is just a nice byproduct.

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