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Flying is the safest way to travel - or is it?

Hundreds of thousands of car accidents happen across the country every year, and many of them happen right here in Texas. Riding a motorcycle or a bicycle or even walking can be hazardous to your health. What about flying? The airlines like to say that flying remains the safest way to travel, and that may be true if you fly commercial. What about traveling by private plane?

Airlines have improved their safety ratings over the years, but when it comes to private aircraft, improvements have been slow. Commercial airlines have reduced their accident rate by nearly 80 percent in the last decade or so, but during that same time, the general aviation industry hasn't seen much improvement, if any.

Scary statistics

Accidents and deaths involving business and corporate jet flights dropped in the last 10 years, but during that same time, deaths in personal flights went up around 25 percent, and accidents increased approximately 20 percent. This leads some sources to say that flying in a personal plane is just as dangerous as driving a car.

Considering the fact that around 30,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes and at least 400 people die in personal plane crashes each year, that statement may seem like a gross exaggeration. However, when you look at the number of people who travel by motor vehicle versus the number of people who travel by personal plane, the percentages are closer than expected.

Pilots are mostly to blame

As is the case in many car crashes, personal aviation accidents often result from operator error. Another parallel between car and private plane crashes rests in the fact that most pilots, just like their driving counterparts on land, lose control of their aircraft and fail to regain it before crashing. Other reasons why private flights are more dangerous than commercial flights include the following:

  • Lack of co-pilots
  • Lack of extra engines
  • Lack of safety features
  • Lack of redundancies
  • Lack of backup navigational systems
  • Lack of annual training

Of course, many private pilots lack adequate training for responding to certain conditions in the first place. For instance, a pilot needs special training in order to perform an instrument only landing, and some private pilots lack this training. This makes landing in inclement weather a life-and-death scenario in some cases. Many private pilots also lack the training to deal with in-air emergencies.

Legal options after a deadly private plane crash

If you lost a loved one in a private plane crash in which he or she was a passenger, it may be possible to pursue compensation for that loss through the filing of a wrongful death claim. In order to increase the chances of successfully doing so, it may be worthwhile to seek out the support of local legal resources with experience in aviation accidents for help.

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