For Oz Pilots, Weekdays Are Safest

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Evenings and weekends tend to be the most dangerous times for GA pilots in Australia, according to a report published Monday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). GA accidents between 5 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. were 1.6 times more likely to be fatal than during other times of the day, the ATSB found. The weekends are even worse -- accidents involving non-commercial operations were 1.9 times more likely to be fatal over the weekend than during the workweek. "Reasons for these findings could not be clearly identified," the report said. The analysis also found that risk varies with age and experience level. Pilots age 15 to 24 and 65 to 84 have higher fatality rates, but risk gradually decreases the longer a license has been held. The safest pilots were those who have held a license for 11 to 20 years. Pilots with between 50 and 999 hours had 3.1 times the fatal accident rate of pilots with 1,000 or more hours. The report notes that the number of pilots involved in fatal accidents is low, so even small changes in the demographics of pilots involved in fatal accidents could dramatically change the risk associated with each age group or experience group. The report reviewed 215 fatal accidents that occurred between 1991 and 2000. Airplanes were involved in 163 accidents, resulting in 331 fatalities, and 52 helicopter accidents resulted in 82 deaths. There were 78 survivors.