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College of Aeronautics

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Flight training accidents constitute 14% of general aviation accidents. Herein we determined the rates, injury severity, and phase of flight for primary student solo accidents/incidents (mishaps) in Cessna 172 aircraft. Mishaps over the period spanning 1994–2013 were identified from the NTSB database. Student population data were from the FAA. Statistics employed proportion tests, Poisson distribution, and Mann-Whitney tests. Across the study period, 598 mishaps were identified. While the mishap rate increased nearly two-fold between 1994/1997 and 2002/ 2005, a 35% decline was evident thereafter. Nevertheless, no statistical difference in mishap rates was evident between the initial and current periods. Over 90% of mishaps resulted in no or minor injuries. However, 97% of involved aircraft incurred substantial damage and no incidents were reported. While the percentage of takeoff accidents climbed two-fold, landing accidents accounted for .70% of all mishaps and remained unchanged over the 20 years. Over one-third of landing accidents were related to excess speed. Landing speed computation for a solo flight with an average weight trainee indicated an 11 knot lower V-ref than that for a Cessna 172S at maximum weight. No statistical difference was evident between the two genders for most phases of operation, although females were overrepresented for excess speed landing accidents. Landing accidents, one-third of which relate to excess speed, continue to challenge primary students. The importance of landing speed control, in the context of reduced aircraft weight, should receive additional emphasis in flight instruction.

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Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering



Purdue University Press

Additional Information

Douglas Boyd was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University when the article was published.