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Austin Personal Injury Blog

Friday, July 14, 2017

Top 5 Small Airplane Accident Causes

For hundreds of years, the human species has been obsessed with taking to the skies. Since then, thousands of people have died in plane crashes. In fact, statistics are now showing that traveling in small planes is more dangerous than traveling in a car, about 19 times more dangerous, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Airplane accidents have been studied extensively, primarily due to FAA investigations, which have revealed the top causes of small airplane accidents throughout history.

1. Loss of Control in Flight

The top cause of fatal small plane accidents is loss of control during the flight. Contributing factors in this type of accident include:

  • Environmental Conditions
  • Lack of Experience
  • Airspeed Control
  • Distraction
  • Medical Emergency

Any of these factors, taken individually or as a whole, can lead to an accident, with deadly consequences.

2. Controlled Flight into Terrain

Crashing into a mountain or the ground is the second highest cause of fatal small plane crashes in the U.S. Typically, these accidents occur in mountainous terrain or on dark, moonless nights. Lack of situational awareness, training and preflight planning, combined with distractions commonly cause these types of accidents. 

3. Systems Failures

Losing your engine on the highway is problematic, but losing an engine thousands of feet in the sky brings an entirely different set of hazards. Failure to identify potential issues during maintenance and preflight checks can lead to critical component failure while in the air.

4. Low Altitude Operations

Pilots flying in low altitude operations include crop dusters, EMS operators and firefighters. Accidents are more likely to occur due to distractions, out of date charts and cell phones.

5. Undetermined

Some accidents remain a mystery, especially when all passengers and crew are killed and recording devices are missing or destroyed. Some contributing factors in these types of accidents include lack of airspeed control, bank angle, situational awareness and distractions.

Small Airplane Crash Statistics

According to the NTSB, in 2014 alone, there were 1290 airplane accidents, 265 of which were fatal accidents that caused 444 fatalities. Most of these accidents are caused by human error. These accidents result in approximately 1000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S. Of those hospitalizations, about 2% result in death. The most common small plane crash injuries, about 26.5%, are to the lower limbs, including crushing injuries, fractures and dismemberment. Head injuries account for about 10.7% of injuries resulting from plane crashes, followed closely, 10% by open wounds.


If you or someone you care for has been injured or killed in a small aircraft accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, loss of income, and loss of consortium. A Texas personal injury attorney can help you determine whose negligence may have caused your injuries and fight for the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consult with a Texas personal injury lawyer to determine liability and fight for your rights.


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