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Accidents in twin-engine aircraft carry a higher risk of fatality compared with single engine aircraft and constitute 9% of all general aviation accidents. The different flight profile (higher airspeed, service ceiling, increased fuel load, and aircraft yaw in engine failure) may make comparable studies on single-engine aircraft accident causes less relevant. The objective of this study was to identify the accident causes for non-commercial operations in twin engine aircraft. A NTSB accident database query for accidents in twin piston engine airplanes of 4-8 seat capacity with a maximum certified weight of 3000-8000lbs. operating under 14CFR Part 91 for the period spanning 2002 and 2012 returned 376 accidents. Accident causes and contributing factors were as per the NTSB final report categories. Total annual flight hour data for the twin engine piston aircraft fleet were obtained from the FAA. Statistical analyses employed Chi Square, Fisher's Exact and logistic regression analysis. Neither the combined fatal/non-fatal accident nor the fatal accident rate declined over the period spanning 2002-2012. Under visual weather conditions, the largest number, n=27, (27%) of fatal accidents was attributed to malfunction with a failure to follow single engine procedures representing the most common contributing factor. In degraded visibility, poor instrument approach procedures resulted in the greatest proportion of fatal crashes. Encountering thunderstorms was the most lethal of all accident causes with all occupants sustaining fatal injuries. At night, a failure to maintain obstacle/terrain clearance was the most common accident cause leading to 36% of fatal crashes. The results of logistic regression showed that operations at night (OR 3.7), off airport landings (OR 14.8) and post-impact fire (OR 7.2) all carried an excess risk of a fatal flight. This study indicates training areas that should receive increased emphasis for twin-engine training/recency. First, increased training should be provided on single engine procedures in the event of an engine failure. Second, more focus should be placed on instrument approaches and recovery from unusual aircraft attitude where visibility is degraded. Third, pilots should be made aware of appropriate speed selection for inadvertent flights in convective weather. Finally, emphasizing the importance of conducting night operations under instrument flight rules with its altitude restrictions should lead to a diminished proportion of accidents attributed to failure to maintain obstacle/terrain clearance.

Publication Title

Accident Analysis & Prevention



Elsevier Ltd

Additional Information

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