Robinson R44 helicopters are death traps, right up there with Mitsubishi MU-2s and Cirrus SR22s – at least that’s according to a lot of articles you read online. But does it tell the whole story? In the spirit of Richard Collins’s very popular “What’s wrong with Cirrus/Mooney/Bonanza pilots” series of articles, I’d like to offer a more nuanced perspective.
From studying everything that has gone on with the TBM and Meridian and with knowledge of the high performance piston fleet, I get the feeling that the lower fatal accident rate in the turboprops has to be attributable to better training. Better reliability could be a factor and the enhanced performance capabilities of these airplanes may have also made a contribution to safer operation.
The higher incidence of accidents in E-AB aircraft is just as logical as the fact that the fatal accident rate in private (general) aviation is almost infinitely higher than it is in airline flying. When more freedom is granted by reducing regulations and eliminating stifling procedures then the risk goes up.
Back in the heyday of piston airplanes being used for personal and business travel, one question was most often asked of owners of high-performance singles: When are you going to step up to a twin? It was automatically assumed that everyone wanted to and all would when they could afford it. In the history of private aviation, though, new piston twins were not a big factor.
The 172 is the most built airplane in history at 43,000 copies. It is probably still safe to say there are more 172s flying in the U. S. than anything else and though production rates today are relatively low, that will remain true for a long time to come. That makes it a true benchmark airplane in a lot of ways, including that good safety record.
I have found that the safety record of an airplane relates more to who flies it and what they try to do with it than anything else. Maybe the pilot is 90 percent of the equation and the airplane ten. When thinking of it in this way, the Mooney 20 series is by far the most diverse airplane in the fleet.
Despite all the safety features it has, from a glass cockpit to a whole airframe parachute, the Cirrus SR-22 has a higher fatal accident rate than most similar airplanes from other manufacturers. Why has this come to be true? It can only be because of one thing: the Cirrus pilot.
In 2012 I posted an article about what might be wrong with Cirrus pilots. That attracted a lot of attention and is third on the list of most-read AIR FACTS posts. A lot has changed since 2012, the Cirrus safety record has improved dramatically, and what has happened seems directly related to the great debate about flying through computers v. basic flying.
We falsely view most aviation decisions as binary. The language of decision-making subtly reinforces this, with exhortations to “keep it simple” or “be confident.” What we end up with is a hopelessly unrealistic set of answers: yes or no, black or white. We should know better. Flying is all about subtle clues, 50/50 decisions and shades of gray.
ICON Aircraft’s self-proclaimed mission is to “create products that not only deliver great functional benefit but also deeply inspire us on an emotional level.” But inspiration isn’t the word that comes to mind right now for many ICON position-holders. As the A5 finally gets close to being delivered to pilots, the company’s purchase agreement has raised a number of questions.
Bill Gates has famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Thus we overhyped the internet in 2000, but failed to recognize how completely it would change life by 2010. The same could be said for electric aircraft, an emerging technology that seems to have been on the “coming soon” list for decades.
The airlines have been able to parlay advances in technology and training to their near-perfect safety record. We have available every bit (and possibly more) in the way of high-tech stuff and yet the safety record doesn’t improve and has now apparently gotten worse. There is no question that something is badly out of place.
This week marks the one year anniversary of Richard L. Collins’s death, and we are remembering the legendary writer by reviewing 10 of his most popular articles. Over the years, Collins tackled a huge variety of topics, from weather flying tips to personal stories, but none were as popular as his detailed reviews of airplane safety records. As you can see below, some were good, some were bad, but almost all elicited strong opinions.
New to Air Facts? This list of popular articles is a great place to get started. Enjoy! 15. The Skycatcher’s death proves the LSA…
Air Facts was founded in 1938, but we relaunched as an online magazine six years ago today. Since that time, over 300 pilots have shared their stories with us, and we have published over 900 posts in total. We sometimes get asked which articles have been the most popular, so we’ve compiled a list here of the 10 most-read article since our relaunch in 2011. Enjoy!
This magazine was founded in 1938 by Leighton Collins to advocate for “facts – knowledge – safety.” Since then, its pages have been filled by some of aviation’s greatest writers, including Richard Collins, Wolfgang Langewiesche, Bob Buck and Richard Bach. Given that rich history, it may seem odd to celebrate a fifth birthday, but Air Facts in its current form was relaunched five years ago, in March 2011.
The crosswind blew me a little past the runway line as I came around on final and I banked it left and added a bit of power to get lined up. Things suddenly got quiet and I had an epiphany! For the first time I really understood why my instructors had said never bank over 30 degrees in the pattern.
We’re proud to release our annual review of the year that was at Air Facts. Among nearly 150 articles published in 2014, these were the 10 most popular. What were the hot topics in 2014?
2012 was quite a year at Air Facts. We welcomed more readers than ever before and tackled a wide variety of aviation topics, from the fun to the serious. Here is our list of the top 12 most popular articles of the year.
Wolfgang Langewiesche is famous for writing the bible on flying, Stick and Rudder. He was also a friend of Air Facts founder Leighton Collins and a frequent contributor for the magazine. In this detailed article from 50 years ago, Langewiesche offers some timeless tips for flying in the mountains.