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Single-pilot Operations Account for 6X More Fatal Loss of Control In-flight Accidents over Last 10 Years Compared to Crews


While Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) related accidents are infrequent, LOC-I remains the number one cause of fatal accidents and fatalities across all sectors of aviation. Furthermore, according to recent data from the NTSB from 2009 to 2018, single-pilot operations account for six times more LOC-I related accidents when compared to crewed operations. Although this is not a direct indication of increased risk, as rates of activity level or volume of operations are not considered in the data, it emphasizes that the quantity of single-pilot LOC-I accidents is of great concern. The video below presents the data from the NTSB and shows a breakdown of the statistics based on the number of accidents per operation type.


What Do the Numbers Mean?

Single-pilot operations, as shown in the chart below, accounted for 6.7 times more fatal accidents between the years 2009-2018. If this data is interpreted as predictive, it can be arguably concluded that single-pilot operations have, and will likely have, substantially more LOC-I related accidents as compared to crewed flight operations in the future. This should be a serious concern for all aviation safety professionals and organizations.

The data becomes even more revealing when broken down by type of operations. Single-pilot operations in the GA Business aviation category accounted for the most number of LOC-I-related fatal accidents and fatalities. For example, a ‘GA Business operation’ includes pilots flying for professional reasons that are not directly aviation-related in nature where airplanes are used as a means of business travel to provide professional services, such as a doctor flying his own airplane to see patients in regional cities. Single-pilot Part 135 On Demand operations accounted for the second most number of LOC-I related single-pilot fatal accidents followed by Executive/Corporate flight operations.

Airlines, government agencies, insurance companies, militaries, and Fortune 500 flight departments trust their UPRT to APS for a reason. We are dedicated full-time to solving LOC-I. Specifically, these single-pilot (and crew) operations statistics can be reduced significantly with improved pilot training incorporating APS Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT). Through properly conducted UPRT delivered according to best practices for Upset Prevention and Recovery Training, pilots learn the skills and disciplines necessary to prevent or, if necessary, recover from a developed airplane upset event on its way to LOC-I.

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