CASA Crash Study Spotlights Pilot Weakness

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Another country, another study, the same results. Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) recently completed an analysis of fatal general aviation accidents over a 10-year period and has come up with findings essentially similar to other studies done on the subject. The vast majority of fatal accidents are caused by pilots, not hardware, and 78 percent can be blamed on poor flight planning, aircraft handling and fuel management, in that order. The eternal question remains what to do about it and CASA has come up with a predictable, although not necessarily productive, solution. "Improved pilot training can be a preventative weapon against mistakes and crashes and CASA will support the aviation industry in striving for the best possible standards in Australia," said CASA CEO Bruce Byron (before placing the study carefully on the shelf). The CASA study says flight-planning errors, including unintentional forays by VFR pilots into IMC and/or darkness, top the list of fatality-inducing problems. Mishandling the aircraft is the second leading cause and running out of gas is third. Bringing up the smallest wedge of the pie are problems such as aircraft loading mistakes, communications/ATC problems and finally engine and other mechanical problems. About half the fatalities occurred on personal flights and the average age of the pilots was 43.