Reasons for accident rate

Well, John, you hit the nail squarely on your point #5.

Unfortunately, you may have missed some of the excellent thoughts conveyed to this forum over the past 24 hours or so.

For example you say “There is no reason for ANY pilot in ANY airplane with ANY degree of experience to knowingly place himself and his passengers in what he perceives at the time to be unreasonable risk (sort of the whole idea of “Pilot in Command”).”

It’s fine to SAY that, but the reality is that the vast majority of aviation accidents and fatalities occur via pilot error, and it has already been established that some aircraft are less prone to bent metal than others.

So how do you bridge the gap between what you say and an effective solution to the problem, since your perfection approach based upon absolutes (“There is no reason for ANY…”) simply doesn’t work 100% of the time?

Seems to me that communication such as has occurred here is a step in the right direction.

Pete

  1. There is no reason for ANY pilot in ANY airplane with ANY degree of experience to knowingly place himself and his passengers in what he perceives at the time to be unreasonable risk (sort of the whole idea of “Pilot in Command”). No one has suggested any genuine factual support for the suggestion that the pilots of SR xx aircraft have been doing this. The data base is simply too small at this time to support any such conclusions. Events have occurred which are subject to different interpretations to date. Let’s see what happens over the next 9-12 months.

  2. The old sarge in Hill Street Blues said it best: “Let’s be careful out there!!” Assuming a moderate degree of intelligence, that should be enough to keep us reasonably safe.

  3. There will doubtless be a new rash of posts which disagree with the above.


Doubtless there will be, because you said a lot of incorrect things. First, we have quite a bit of data. People are incorrectly claiming that the small number of CIrrus flight hours doesn’t allow for a meaningful analysis. While somebody earlier made a very good post supporting the statistical significant of the accidents already occurred, let me point out one more thing: even if we go 100,000 hours of Cirrus flying with ZERO accidents (certainly a statistically significant number of hours, no?) the best we could possibly hope to do is to meet the average accident rate for GA aircraft. Is that significant enough for you, bud?

I think it’s probably worth thinking about now, unless you’d like to wait for a statistically significant number of fatalities or totalled airplanes.

Pete:

Thanks for your post. I appreciate the thoughtful comments which are made on the forum.

I didn’t miss the point. To the contrary, as a low time pilot (135 hours with 25 in SR20), I may be far more cognizant of the point than many of my more experienced bretheren may be. I know that I have much yet to experience, and I plan to experience it in the most careful way possible. That would be my plan whether I was in a 172 or in an SR 22. To date, I can think of several instances flying here is South Florida with its ever changing weather when conservative decision-making kept me from having to explore new limits which could have proven unreasonable. While my logbook may be thin on total time, my life experience in pressurized decision-making is substantial. Hopefully, I will continue to expand my personal envelope in a series of carefully considered baby steps, and stay away from situations which I may be able to handle but which it would be unwise to intentionally undertake.

At the end of the day (has anyone ever really gotten there??), the world is full of stupid ways for people to kill themselves and those around them, and if someone is not sufficiently aware of their surroundings, their real capabilities and the great uncertainty that always lies out there, they stand an excellent chance of finding one of them. Take for instance the guy down here in South Florida who was out on a lake on his jet ski some months ago, was tooling along at about 60 m.p.h. and experienced a controlled flight of his head into a duck. Both duck and jet skier died.

Hopefully, all of us will constantly examine our situations in light of our abilities, the abilities of the aircraft, the benefits of pushing the outside of our personal envelopes and the consequence of being wrong in our decision-making. Discussions like we have had over the last few days are helpful, but let’s move on to something else. I’m sure we’ll get back to this subject many times in the future.

…even if we go 100,000 hours of Cirrus flying with ZERO accidents (certainly a statistically significant number of hours, no?) the best we could possibly hope to do is to meet the average accident rate for GA aircraft.

I’ve tried, but I really don’t seem to be able to grasp the point of what’s being said here. Could you explain it to a slow-thinking theoretical physicist like me?

Thanks,
Roger

In reply to:


…I don’t see how you can avoid making one of two possible conclusions:

  1. There is something about the airplanes that makes them hard to land.

  2. There is something about people who buy Cirrus aircraft that makes them think (incorrectly) they know how to land.


Jonathan,

I was going to remain quiet, if only because so much has already been said… but I really must react to your comments.

In my personal experience and very humble opinion, my SR20 is by far the predictable airplane I’ve ever flown, and certainly the most predictable in the landings department. Without getting into a lot of detail, I’d like to give you a frame of reference: I’ve flown and landed a lot of GA airplanes. I don’t buy premise number one - this is a very straightforward, easy airplane to land. [I have flown an SR22 through a few landings – and while it’s not a lot, I found that it handles almost exactly the same way as an SR20].

I don’t want to get into premise number two… except to say that the majority of people who buy Cirrus airplanes DO know how to land. Some don’t, and that’s too bad… and that’s true of pilots of all flavors.

  • Mike.

Only one major flaw in your argument - only one of the 4 accidents in 2001 was a landing accident. The others were (based on preliminary NTSB info, which frequently does not reflect final reports)

  1. VFR into IMC
  2. Maintenance error (oil drain plug fell out) leading to engine failure
  3. Unexplained engine failure while VFR in bad weather

As for whether the underlying rate is any different to the general fleet, we DO NOT KNOW! Just because we had 4 accidents in (maybe) 27K hours tells us no more about what Cirrus pilots are doing than, for example, tossing three heads in a row tells me anything about the chance of the next toss being a head (even though there was only a 12.5% chance of getting three heads).

And I can assure you that Cirrus aircraft are not hard to land. Quite the opposite.

…even if we go 100,000 hours of Cirrus flying with ZERO accidents (certainly a statistically significant number of hours, no?) the best we could possibly hope to do is to meet the average accident rate for GA aircraft.

I’ve tried, but I really don’t seem to be able to grasp the point of what’s being said here. Could you explain it to a slow-thinking theoretical physicist like me?

I think what he is saying is if you add the 4 or 5 accidents that have occured already, if you have no more accidents , that you are already at 5 in 100,000 hours.

Paul

I think what he is saying is if you add the 4 or 5 accidents that have occured already, if you have no more accidents , that you are already at 5 in 100,000 hours.
Paul

Hi Paul,

A-ha! Thanks for clarifying. (I couldn’t follow the math 'cause there weren’t any integral symbols.)

Cheers,
Roger

There is one important difference in the way the Cirri perform that I believe has bearing on the accident rate. The relatively high wing loading means that the approach speed has to be more closely monitored, and the flare must be delayed awhile, relative to what the 172 lets you get away with. Round out early, as many 172 pilots do, and you get slow; get slow and you develop a wicked sink rate and bounce (or worse.)

When I picked up my SR20, Wings Aloft was teaching people to fly the approach at 80 KIAS (even though the POH says 75), presumably to reduce the number of drop-ins. Unfortunately, this leads to landing too fast, which has its own set of nasty side effects. 75 is very much the right speed for this airplane.

I think the Cirri require a bit more (though not a lot more) care in approach and landing than 172s do, and are less forgiving when you start getting outside the envelope. It’s not a lot harder, just a little bit more, and nothing that an extra hour of training won’t fix.

(I recently flew a 172 for the first time in over a year. Both landings were awful…)