Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 1 decade ago

Is General Aviation safer then driving?

I came across this report on the dangers of general aviation VS automobile driving. I’m not concern about the risks of flying commercial just GA. Can anyone logically dispute these accusations?

Is Flying Safer Than Driving?

Automobile driving 1.47 fatalities per 100 million miles

commercial airlines 1.57 fatalities per 100 million miles

General Aviation non commercial 13.10 fatalities per 100 million miles

statistics from

the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Additional information; Does anyone know a way to breakdown this information to exclude the #1 and #2 causes of GA accidents. To my knowledge the main reasons are still caused running out of fuel & VRF pilots flying into IFR conditions. I ask because, most newer private planes now have redundancies for such issues as well as better instrumentation and even airframe parachutes.

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    What is even stranger about these numbers is the guy MAKES UP average speeds for General Aviation aircraft and even Average Speed for CARS... wanta tell me where those numbers came from? Thin air does not produce correct reports! He "estimates" the average car speed at 40 miles per hour, really? Is that a good number? He "estimates" the average GA flight at 150mph. Exactly how did he reach that? Since those have a direct impact on the out come, nothing is real in those numbers! Certainly no SCIENCE or accurate information was used. Change either speed and the numbers change.

    Source(s): Old Age and simple math - TL
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    That sounds about right except that commercial airlines have always been safer than driving. I think something is a little fishy with the airline numbers, other places seem to put it down closer to 0.5-0.8 depending on who you ask. As a general rule of thumb, GA is eight times more dangerous than driving a car, or about as dangerous as riding a motorcycle. Do keep in mind though that GA safety is affected to a huge extent by the competency and experience of the pilot. Now, one little problem that I see is that your numbers are from the NTSA, which has nothing to do with aviation, therefore making it likely that they have no idea what they are talking about. Some of the other answerers said that aviation, even GA, is safer. I'm sorry but it's simply not. Those 488 over 24 million hours on AOPA's website refers to aviation as a whole, not just GA. I've had friends die flying small airplanes, but then again I've had friends die driving cars and motorcycles, and I've had friend die bungy jumping, base jumping, skydiving, regular ocean diving, and those other high risk activities that no but thinks about. For me, I rationalize flying by the old saying "You only live once. Make sure it's enough." I would rather die when I'm 80 years old while flying than die when I'm 81 in a nursing home. That's just my opinion. And sorry about my general lack of structure here, I'm in a bit of a hurry...

    Source(s): I've been a pilot for right about a decade, and I currently hold a PPL with instrument rating and a high performance sign off. I'm currently working on a commercial license, rotorcraft endorsement, and a tail wheel endorsement. I have close to 1200 hours of experience and currently own and fly a 2000 Mooney Eagle with a 310hp conversion. I've personally never had an accident or incident of any kind other than a hard landing which messed up some piping to the turbo on my old Mooney. No insurance claims and I currently pay under $150 a month for very high quality insurance.
  • 7 years ago

    What nobody discussed in their answer is that it really depends on the plane you are flying and the skill level of the pilot. For example just adding an instrument rating makes a pilot significantly safer, and that alone may bring the safety level of flying close to that of driving. A big problem is that most general aviation pilots don't fly that often, so their skills start to erode. It is estimated that 80% of general aviation accidents are due to pilot error and if you read NTSB reports I think that it is probably closer to 90%. If you get an instrument rating and fly regularly, and exercise good judgment in terms of not flying in weather you can't handle, you can definitely be safer than driving. You can read more about flying and airplane ownership on my blog at

    Source(s): Instrument Rated Private Pilot
  • Rob G
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I only quickly glanced through his article but it seems okay to me (I only looked at the driving vs GA flying and not the commercial stuff). His initial facts seem right as far as how many fatalities / hours flown and fatalities / miles driven that he claims. Personally, I've always felt that general aviation was more dangerous than driving (and I'm an ex airline pilot) of course I have no statistics to backup my claims.

    One thing you can argue is the speeds he chose for converting hours flown into miles travelled and vice versa but they seem like reasonable guesses to me.

    For those that disagree, where are your numbers that come to different conclusions?

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Overall, being in a private plane is about as dangerous as riding a motorcycle. This means that it is more dangerous than riding in a car. However, the actual risk depends hugely on the airplane's condition and the skill and behavior of the pilot. A small number of bad pilots push the accident statistics up, while a larger number of good pilots manage to avoid accidents.

    General aviation includes everything that isn't commercial airlines, and the range of accident rates is vast. Corporate jets flown by expert, experienced pilots hardly ever have accidents, even though they are part of general aviation. Small private planes in poor repair, flown by incompetent or reckless private pilots, account for a very large number of general aviation accidents. Most of the accidents are due to pilot error.

    Newer private planes do not have any more automatic protection than older planes, no matter what you read in that shiny Cirrus brochure. Instruments have improved, but it takes a good pilot to make proper use of fancier instruments—bad pilots manage to crash no matter what space-age technology they have on board. Airplane parachutes are useful only in certain specific situations, and may be installed only to get the airplane certified by the FAA, rather than as any additional increment of safety (although clever marketing campaigns can hide this fact).

    As a latter of fact, a certain manufacturer of airplanes with parachutes has one of the highest accident rates of any airplane builder. It's not because there's anything wrong with the airplane, it's just that the company markets its airplanes to low-time, wealthy pilots who actually believe that having high-tech in the cockpit can save them from their own incompetence or carelessness.

    If you're a passenger in a private airplane, the key thing to ask yourself is how much you trust the pilot, and how competent you think he is. If you're flying with a conscientious, skilled, safety-minded pilot, you don't have anything to worry about—you're at least as safe as you'd be in a car. If you're flying with a thrill-seeking, careless pilot who only got his license through divine intervention, you'd better make sure your insurance is paid up before you take off.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Frankly, those statistics are flat out wrong. If you look at AOPA's website, in 2006 fixed wing general aviation (excluding helicopters) had 488 deaths out of an estimated 24 million hours flown. Do some research on legitimate websites and you'll discover that it really is far safer to fly.

    I don't know who created the website you cited, but they obviously have a vendetta against aviation.

    If you torture numbers long enough, they will confess to anything.

    Source(s): Flight instructor
  • 1 decade ago

    The article goofed. They are comparing a years worth of automobile death against a whole decade of commercial airline deaths.

  • 1 decade ago

    This is fake because flying is safer than driving. In fact, you have more of a chance of crashing your car on your way to the airport than you do on your entire flight!

  • 1 decade ago

    General aviation is DANGEROUS!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I do not buy them. Dunno how they crunched the numbers, but they are unique among the hundreds of statistics I have seen over 30 years of flying... Just sayin'

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.