Safety Question???

Can anyone find any data that might be available that would allow me to compare flying in GA and motorcycle riding? Thought a change in topic and perspective might be interesting.

Can anyone find any data that might be available that would allow me to compare flying in GA and motorcycle riding?

Two things I can think of right off are that the SR20 has three wheels and no helmet law has yet to be proposed for GA. Although given enough time I’m certain the FAA will correct that glaring omission[:)].

It would be interesting to compare the safety record of each on a per mile basis.

Some time ago on this board, someone posted that they had seen two different studies concluding that MC and GA flying both represent 7X more risk than automobiles. But, as an avid and experienced MCer, I think flying is safer. MC riders have virtually no training! FWIW.

The biggist number of both of them die in their sleep, of old age.

So is sleeping dangerous ?

(A friend’s grandfather died in his sleep, with a smile on his face.
Not so the 3 people who crashed and burned to death in his car…)

Go to http://www.bts.gov/Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the http://www.ntsb.govNTSB web sites.

To compare motorcycles with light aircraft, you had to make some assumptions about things like the average speed of a motorcycle and the average number of people riding in a small plane. This is because the aircraft statistics are in terms of accidents and fatal accidents per hour, while cars and motorcycles are in fatalities per mile.

I made some assumptions, like an average speed of 32 MPH (I read this somewhere) for cars and motorcycles, and using the statistics came up with (this is from memory):

GA is about seven times more dangerous than cars per mile, and about 30 times more dangerous per hour.

GA is about 100 times more dangerous per hour, and about 300 times more dangerous per mile, than part 121 (airliners).

Motocycles are about 22 times more dangerous per mile than cars.

Motorcycles and GA are within a factor of two of each other per hour, but GA is safer per mile.

This is all from memory, check the web sites and come up with your own conclusions.

One pitfall I should warn against: pilots in denial will often say “but if you eliminated the bonehead accidents, the GA rate would be so much better”. To be fair, you need to also eliminate the bonehead car and motorcycle accidents. For cars and motorcycles, that would eliminate most of them (half are alcohol related, most of the rest are due to being what most people would call “boneheaded”).

Can anyone find any data that might be available that would allow me to compare flying in GA and motorcycle riding?

Other sig-facts:

• Motor cyclists don’t have to be urged to stay out of freezing rain.

• I have NO data to support this, but I’ll give great odds that a majority (> 90%?) of motor cycle accidents occur below 300’ AGL. Especially those involving spins.

• Same odds as above that motorbikes are more likely to be involved in accidents involving pedestrians.

• Very few bikes involved in midair collisions (though I’ve seen a handful of spectacular ones)

Could probably go on all day. If you really want to compare things first hand, visit me in my hangar – the very NEXT hangar is occupied by a motor cycle club. [One other difference – motor cycles engines are routinely started, revved and tuned INSIDE the hangar. And they’re louder than a C5A Galaxy on steroids.] [:@]

• Mike.

• I have NO data to support this, but I’ll give great odds that a majority (> 90%?) of motor cycle accidents occur below 300’ AGL. Especially those involving spins.

Although I have not statistics, I would assume that most GA injuries and deaths also occur below 300’ AGL. By definition, in both cases, they occur on the ground. As I learned when taking my skydiving lessons, “No one ever died while parachuting. It was the sudden stop at the end which caused all of the deaths!”

Marty

I’ve read the same statistic, that motorcycles and GA are about the same…7 X riskier than cars. The difference is that pilots go through extensive training and, as a group, are probably smarter, more sober and more focused on safety than any other group. Motorcyclists, on the other hand, include some of the most reckless individuals. Thus, the fact that GA cannot manage any better safety statistics than motorcycles, tells you something about the “inherent” safety of a small plane!. Ahem…this is a view best not communicated to the wives

Then there’s the joke about the 80 year-old man who went to the doctor, who said there was a one-in-five chance he’d die in the next year.

Given the flying statistics, he spent most of that time in an airplane to improve his longevity.

The difference is that pilots go through extensive training and, as a group, are probably smarter, more sober and more focused on safety than any other group.

I used to think that, but I’m not sure I believe it anymore.

Even if so, it may be a double-edged sword. Many accidents ensue as a result of overconfidence in the pilot’s abilities and/or airplane’s capabilities. Get-home-itis, continuing on into adverse conditions, and denial are are all higher-level thinking more apt to occur in confident, “smart” people.

About pilots and their safety practices:

http://www.avweb.com/articles/lounge/tpl0038.html

The difference is that pilots go through extensive training and, as a group, are probably smarter, more sober and more focused on safety than any other group.

I bet rock climbers who go up the side of a cliff with only a bag of chalk, say the same thing about themselves.

Fortunately, I suspect we are 99.9999999999% safe in cars (not likely to die). Therefore 7 X .0000000001 cars/mile and 30 X .0000000001= a very minmal overall risk in GA. Naturally, if we are less safe in cars, like just 99%…oops, then those risk factors make us downright suicidal as GA pilots!
Two more things to look at would be:

1. compare GA to NASCAR drivers
2. How much safer is GA in VFR only
This was interesting stuff, Thanks Robert.

Mt analysis is slightly less scientific.

I used to ride my motorcycle to the airport, put it in the T-hanger then go flying. I always felt relieved when I got to the airport the first time and euphoric when I got back to the airport.

With planes, you are in greater control of your destiny. On motorcycles, you are much more at the mercy of some other a**hole.

I tend to agree with you, Gordon. For example here is a pilot with a CPL and over 13,000 hours experience who came to grief due to complete lack of planning and consideration of the weather.

“The difference is that pilots go through extensive training and, as a group, are probably smarter, more sober and more focused on safety than any other group.
I used to think that, but I’m not sure I believe it anymore.”

I agree with you. Same goes for the aircraft maintenance “profession” IMO.
Come to think of it I believe some bankers, lawyers and doctors I know fall into this same category…

Don’t know about cars, but looking at the preliminary 2001 stats from the NTSB, GA had 1.22 fatal accidents per/100,000 flight hours (compared to 0.013/100K hours for part 121 scheduled air carriers!), so figuring an average flight of 1.5 hours, every time you take off in a light plane, the odds of dying at the end of the flight are around 0.002% - by any measure, not a large risk. If it weren’t for the serious nature of death, we probably wouldn’t give the risk a second thought!

Don,

I don’t agree that we are super safe in cars or in GA planes.

Here’s a basic statistic and maybe it will get through where the others didn’t: there is about one fatal GA accident per 70,000 hours of flying. So, if you are an average GA pilot (which is a big if), and you fly 10,000 hours in your life time, you stand something like a one in seven chance of buying the farm in a small plane. Not reassuring.

So the trick is to either not fly or not be anything close to an average pilot from an accident-risk point of view.

Realizing that the accident rate is poor is something that I find helps keep me humble and staying humble, as a pilot, is something that makes it less likely for me to kill myself and my family in my plane. Make sense?

I suggest looking at the statistics more closely before tossing around made-up numbers with lots of nines and zeroes.

Rob

PS. My brother thought he was a safe pilot. He had comtempt for pilots who got into trouble doing dumb things. He botched an instrument approach and died and almost killed me, his wife, and his baby. It has left me with a healthy respect for the ability of aircraft to efficiently and rapidly translate misjudgement into disasster.

Obviously my actions indicate that I agree with Clyde.

However, the cumulative effect of flying 1,000 hours (about a 7 year supply for me) is about 1%, I believe. If so, its not insignificant. On the other hand, dying of cancer, heart disease, etc., is presumably higher.

Andy