Lv 4
roland asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 1 decade ago

how safe is flying a small plane, such as a Cessna 172?

I'm thinking of taking flight lessons but was wandering how safe is flying a small plane. I couldn't find any statistics on that. I know commercial aviation is the safest way of travel but what about recreational flying ?


Thanks for your replys. I was hoping that somebody could point me to some actual statistical data for private aviation, I couldn't find it, there's plenty on commercial aviation. I actually read somewhere that flying a small plane is 4 times more dangerous then driving a car.

Also to the guy who thinks he's superman (JetDoc)... the reason people like are able to do what they want is because there are people who actually put a little bit of thought in what they do... as an engineer I like to gather a little bit of data before I jump and do something...

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    "How safe is flying a small plane. I couldn't find any statistics on that..."

    Statistically, the accident rate is very low.

    In 2005, there were 24,401,000 flight hours logged in GA aircraft with 1,669 accidents, 321 of them fatal. That translates to a 6.83% accident rate per 100,000 hours flown and a 1.31% fatality rate.

    The problem with looking solely at those numbers to judge the "safety" of a light aircrft is that most GA accidents are usually caused by poor decision making by the pilot, not any mechanical issue with the aircraft itself.

    The leading cause of general aviation accidents is continued flight into deteriorating weather by pilots not certified (or current) to do so. That is a choice that is made by the pilot, yet is reflects on GA accident stats as a whole. Light aircraft are no more unsafe just because pilots chose to do unsafe things with them!

    If GA pilots would quit doing stupid thing with aircraft, then those rates would be even lower.

  • 1 decade ago

    There's no really easy answer to this question. You can definitely take a look at general statistics. AOPA's Air Safety Foundation puts out good information. (First link below.) Most readable among that information is probably the yearly Nall Report. (Second link below.)

    One of the nice things about learning to fly is that, as the pilot, you have a very high level of control over how safe your flying is. In a car, no matter how well you drive, you can only do so much to prevent others from involving you in an accident. Very few recreational aviation accidents are caused by people outside the plane.

    According to the Nall Report, over 75% of the accidents in 2004 were caused by the pilot. Getting good training and exercising good judgment, then, could make your flying much safer than the statistics would at first seem to indicate. Just over 15% of the accidents in 2004 had mechanical causes. That might seem like a high number, but it amounted to 221 accidents. There's no telling how many of those could have been prevented had the pilot been more careful.

    There's no doubt that recreational flying involves risks. A big part of your training as a pilot will be the management (and minimizing) of these risks.

    When you start looking for a place to take lessons, sit down with the person you are considering as an instructor and ask her or him this same question. If you don't like the answer, consider flying somewhere else. Safety should matter as much to your instructor as it does to you.

  • 1 decade ago

    Flying in a small plane you have the best rate of survival if something happens. This is because a small plane can become a "glider" (you've probably seen them, they look like a plane but have no engine) and land safely. It's a ton safer then having an emergency on a commecial plane, they are too heavy and not designed in a way that can allow the plane to glide to a safe landing.

    To the first poster I can't believe you won't fly a small plane because of a mistake a pilot made. The plane did what it was supposed to, the pilot didn't. A commercial pilot can run out of fuel just as well as a general aviation pilot can, and it's has happened! Any person who has paid attention during their training can safely land a small plane and walk away(doesn't mean the plane will fly again). It's the human error that does the pilot in. If you look at the numbers you have a much bigger chance of dying in a car crash then you ever have being in a plane crash.

  • 4 years ago

    Flying A Cessna 172

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  • 5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    how safe is flying a small plane, such as a Cessna 172?

    I'm thinking of taking flight lessons but was wandering how safe is flying a small plane. I couldn't find any statistics on that. I know commercial aviation is the safest way of travel but what about recreational flying ?

    Source(s): safe flying small plane cessna 172:
  • 1 decade ago

    Fact: flying (be it small or large plane) is much safer than driving or riding in an automobile. Statistical data continues to prove it, yet the news nerds won't report every auto accident; it's boring and it happens all too frequently. Aviation accidents are much less frequent, so when one does happen it's all over the news (small or large aircraft).

    I'm a pilot and an aircraft technician with an inspection rating; plus I instruct aircraft maintenance at a two-year college. I also own my own aircraft, and I can tell you that flying is very safe.

    Like mostly everything else, human error is what kills humans. If you're a passenger, know your pilot and his/her skills and abilities (how long have they been a pilot?); if you're flying, make sure you have/had a great instructor; one that cares about the skills and abilities you develop, not one that instructs just to build time for the airlines.

  • 4 years ago

    If you call driving a car easy, then flying a Cessna 172 would be pretty much the same except the control column (Steering wheel on the plane) also controls the ups and downs. However since the aircraft is a lightweight aircraft it becomes unstable due to gentle winds but is something you don't need to worry about. Also when you are moving the control, you might need to use a little extra strength because the controls don't run on hydraulics.

  • Vinny
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    General aviation is quite a bit riskier than commercial aviation. I wouldn't let it stop me from flying, but be aware of the reality. The aircraft involved most often in a general aviation accident is the light twin engine class; hard to say exactly why. Single engine craft tend to be safer, but like all small aircraft, they are easily affected by weather. Number one cause of accidents is pilot error, usually caused by loss of situational awareness. Given these facts, if you fly only in decent weather, and strive to stay on top of the situation, things should go well. Still, it's always safer on the ground...

    Source(s): GA experience
  • JetDoc
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    If you're so concerned about your safety, then maybe you should just pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed for the rest of your life. In the end, you'll still die, but you'll never be able to say you've lived!

    Risk is part of life, and if you're not willing to take some now and then, then what's the purpose of being here in the first place?

    Thanks for the Superman comment, Roland. The fact remains that you can analyze things to death but if you don't get out from behind your desk and give it a try, you'll regret it for the rest of your short, insignificant life.

    Source(s): I fly small planes, ride motorcycles, drive race cars, and love every moment of it!
  • dahm
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Small Plane Crash Statistics

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