Are Aircraft Safe?

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations / Flight Safety / Better Pil' started by jedi, May 27, 2017.

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  1. May 27, 2017 #1

    jedi

    jedi

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    The thread "Crashes in the News" post number 710 brought up the question of whether aircraft are safe and if design improvements to improve aircraft safety are possible and the relative advantage and need for improved training for existing aircraft versus design improvements applied to existing designs and new aircraft.

    The initial discussion had to do with loss of control accidents but this thread is for expanded safety discussions of any type. It is intended for aircraft design and stability and control issues as opposed to air traffic control, weather, structural or maintenance issues but we will see where it goes.
     
  2. May 27, 2017 #2

    bmcj

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    Life isn't safe. The only sure correlation is that birth eventually leads to death. If we try to eliminate all risk factors, including birth, it doesn't leave us with much of a future.
     
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  3. May 27, 2017 #3

    Vigilant1

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    "Are aircraft safe?" cannot be answered or even form a useful starting point for discussion. "Flying" can have relative degrees of safety, and aircraft features and characteristics can enhance or detract from the safety of flying. And so can lots of other things (training, other elements of the flight environment, etc).
     
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  4. May 27, 2017 #4

    TFF

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    Statistically it is always shown safer than driving your car, but if you get killed in a car wreck, you may make the local news. If you crash an airplane in the same type of circumstance, it makes national news. General public are scared of airplanes because they have not been trained to use them, so they are at someone else's mercy if going flying. They have the same feeling if they see it from the ground, but if a car ran over them, they would not think that way. Attitudes have always kept on the adventure side of flying, they dont realized that the crew flying them to Boca are the best trained monkeys money can buy.
     
  5. May 27, 2017 #5

    choppergirl

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    It really depends on the aircraft. Consult this poster when in doubt.

    Since I side with the Germans which let the pilots paint their airplanes any crazy color scheme they want, the poster is reversed for me.

    Airplanes kind of got a bad rap with the public when people mounted machine guns on them and started shooting at other people, Stuka dive bombing them Guernica style, dropping napalm on poor dirt farmers in the jungle, nuking entire cities, and carpet bombing them from B-52s. No, sorry, it wasn't those crazy untrained ultralight pilots that gave aviation a bad safety rap with the public. It was the military.

    The 747, the people hauling bus of the sky, has gone a long way to repair that.... mostly. Even people who have no idea how an airplane flies, have flown on a 747 and it's ilk. I bet you have too. What other airplane can say that? Even your kids have probably ridden on a 747.

    I nicknamed "Crashes in the News" Queen Anne's Revenge, because others have tried to sink her, but she remains at large on the high seas like a ghost ship, as her captain is long gone from her. So any time you post to CitN, you're obligated to say "Arg!! Avast you scurvy dogs, the Queen Anne rides again!" as you click the Post button on your reply in CitN.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  6. May 27, 2017 #6

    rbrochey

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    I get asked that a lot... I answer that basically life isn't safe. But like anything, training and experience continually put the odds in your favor. There are countless thing less safe than flying... feel free to add to the (subjective, based on my 68 years dwelling on this dying planet) list:

    1. Operating a motorcycle (scooters not so much)
    2. Driving too fast in a rainstorm
    3. Tailgating a semi
    4. Using an aluminum ladder to reach next to a power line
    5. Walking in the field by the sewage lagoons near Thoreau New Mexico where there exists every species of rattlesnakes found in the southwest
     
  7. May 27, 2017 #7

    Marc Zeitlin

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    Actually, that's only for commercial flights. GA, on the whole, is approximately 5X - 10X more dangerous that driving a car, depending upon how you attempt to determine miles or hours flown, and whether you measure on a per mile or per hour basis. But essentially, flying GA aircraft is about the same danger level, both for accidents and fatal accidents, as driving a motorcycle, give or take.

    I think these are good points.

    With respect to the OP, the first question is, "what's safe"? In relation to commercial airline flights, driving a car isn't anywhere near safe. In relation to driving a car, flying a GA aircraft isn't safe. In relation to flying a GA aircraft, SCUBA diving or parachuting aren't safe. So, what's the reference frame, and what's the object of the question?

    If the question is, can flying GA aircraft be made safer, the answer is "of course it can". Just like with cars, having them be autonomous will greatly increase safety, when the technology is mature. Autonomous cars will eventually save ~35K - ~40K lives per year, and eliminate who knows how many accidents.

    For GA aircraft, technology will eventually eliminate many judgement related accidents, by not letting the aircraft get into situations where LOC can occur. People can be infinitely stupid, however, and unless GA aircraft are made completely autonomous, as cars will be, then not all accidents will be preventable. And of course, there are always mechanical failures and weather, which are far more dangerous in a plane than in a car.
     
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  8. May 27, 2017 #8

    don january

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    What part is safe? I see if the bird makes it off the ground and back home in one piece. Then what can be done to make it better? Cable the engine to the mount? Does the cowling Have right air flow? hows them brake's? Is the canopy going too latch down tight? Are the controls balanced and not heavy on one wing? "Are Aircraft Safe" Yep I think so, Don't push the plane harder then what you have already made it to. Don't push the envelope.:dead:
     
  9. May 27, 2017 #9

    Turd Ferguson

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    Motorcycles are just about on par with flying a GA airplane, so that makes for a good comparison. "Flying is no more dangerous than the drive to the airport" True, if you ride a motorcycle to the airport.
     
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  10. May 27, 2017 #10

    davidb

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    Flying is inherently dangerous. Aircraft are inherently prone to failure.

    Safety is a goal.
     
  11. May 27, 2017 #11

    Swampyankee

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    Statistically, that's certainly true for commercial air transport, but, if my memory of the data are correct, intercity bus travel is also safer than travel by personal car. The comparison is properly between driving and personal aviation. Here, general aviation may not fare too well compared to driving (see http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/safety).

    As an aside, in the US, among the jobs more dangerous than police officer is commercial pilot. https://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45kifl/no-3-aircraft-pilots-and-flight-engineers-3/#d70511451f0f
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  12. May 27, 2017 #12

    gtae07

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    I wonder what the results would be if we filtered out cases of gross stupidity and negligence, at least as they affect the person at fault? So alcohol impairment, grossly excessive speeding, impromptu low-altitude aerobatics, etc.
     
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  13. May 27, 2017 #13

    BJC

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    Airplanes are not "safe." No machine that pepole use for transportation is safe.

    The hazards one is exposed to when operating an airplane may be managed (to a level acceptable to me) by exercising good judgement, having and using the necessary skills and experience, and by properly maintaining the airplane.


    BJC
     
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  14. May 27, 2017 #14

    Lucrum

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    Ditto
     
  15. May 27, 2017 #15

    Turd Ferguson

    Turd Ferguson

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    Would have no data?
     
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  16. May 27, 2017 #16

    BJC

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    jedi:

    Given this comment

    you may not be surprised to read that I do not believe that there is a hardware fix for the vast majority of loss-of-control accidents.

    Note that in my professional life, one of my responsibilities (I was responsible for the program - small team of outstanding employees made it happen) was to reduce the number of adverse significant events in a large electric utility generating system. Adverse significant events were events that resulted in an injury to an employee, an event that violated safety procedures, an event that resulted in the violation of an environmental permit, an event that resulted in generating unit loss of availability or an event that damaged equipment over a dollar thresh hold. Over a three year period, significant events had been reduced by, IIRC, approximately by 80%. We made no hardware changes. We taught root cause analysis, we taught potential problem analysis, we taught specific methods or recognizing OTJ potential problems, we taught specific, clear, concise communicating methods, we instituted new or improved procedures to address root causes and potential problems, and we provided initial and recurrent normal operation and emergency response training for plant operators.

    As Pops will confirm, large power plants are hazardous places. Proper methods, training and skills allow the work to be done safely and efficiently. Effective education, training, practice and good judgement can significantly reduce loss-of-control events in airplanes. Looking for a hardware solution is a misplaced effort.


    BJC
     
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  17. May 27, 2017 #17

    Hephaestus

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    Give it a decade, insurance won't even let us fly.

    Just like the self driving cars - once more mainstream, insurance where the automation isn't in control will skyrocket.

    And with all these human carrying quad copters coming along - it's just a matter of time.
     
  18. May 27, 2017 #18

    Turd Ferguson

    Turd Ferguson

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    Unfortunately, I'm not going to live for 300 more yrs. I'll just keep flying airplanes until I'm too old
     
  19. May 27, 2017 #19

    Turd Ferguson

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    Flying on an airliner is safe. There is an app called "Is my plane going down" where you can enter the airline, flight number, city pair and it will calculate the odds of the plane crashing. Some flights required you to fly the same flight every day for ~400 yrs before being in a crash - statistically. That's pretty safe.
     
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  20. May 27, 2017 #20

    bmcj

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    Then you would just be left with the statistic that answers this question about "Are aircraft safe?" And you would now have a sample that says flying is safer than driving.

    What we need is a system that trains pilots how to control a plane throughout its entire flight envelope instead of only training them in the warm, cushy safe zone in the middle of the envelope. When you haven't been trained at the edges of the envelope, and you inadvertently find yourself out of you safe zone and near the edge, the new situation can lead to panic, and panic kills. There is some good stuff in the new training standards, but there was some essential stuff in the old training standards that has been abandoned. We need the old standards back, combined with some of the new standards.
     

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