Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics


Applied Aviation Sciences

Committee Chair

Guy M. Smith, Ed.D.

First Committee Member

Alan J. Stolzer, Ph.D.


According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), loss of control in-flight is the greatest cause of general aviation accidents. The purpose of this study was to determine the most frequently occurring probable causes and contributing factors from loss of control in-flight. This study used the Pareto principle and methodology developed by the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee to analyze accidents retrieved from the NTSB's Aviation Accident Database. The results showed that 73% of the accidents contained the contributing factor of "PILOT - Failure to maintain airspeed" across the three categories of reciprocating engine aircraft, turbine engine aircraft, and experimental-amateur built (E-AB) aircraft. The results also showed that 50% of all the accidents resulted from a pairing of "Pilot-Failure to maintain airspeed" and "PILOT - Aerodynamic stall/spin." Hypothesis testing showed very few statistically significant differences among the three aircraft categories (Recip, Turbine, and E-AB). The study concluded that resources should be allocated towards finding a solution for pilots' failure to maintain airspeed.