In recent years, the number of small aircraft accidents has risen significantly. The increase in small aircraft crashes is often attributed to the higher number of personal aircraft in the skies over the U.S. While large commuter aircraft must follow strict federal safety regulations, smaller aircraft are often allowed to follow more lax procedures involving maintenance, takeoff, flight, and landing.
Although flying a small aircraft can be a tremendously rewarding experience (and may be necessary for commutes to smaller or out-of-the-way locales, standardized aircraft safety rules should be followed at all times. Accidents involving small planes, gliders, and jets often result in severe injury or death to the pilot and passengers on board. Such accidents are often cause for personal injury lawsuits against the parties responsible for the accidents and can cost quite a bit of money in legal fees and compensation for the victims.
People seeking to fly private aircraft should be sure to enroll in an accredited flight-instruction course and should log the required hours in order to receive their pilots' license. Before boarding a private aircraft, make sure the pilot is properly licensed and experienced before agreeing to fly. There is no substitute for real-time experience when it comes to flying an aircraft, and pilots should be comfortable in the cockpit before flying without supervision.
Another issue that may plague private aircraft is a lack of proper maintenance. The electronics and aviation systems on aircraft often require constant maintenance to ensure proper operation. Some private aircraft are kept at small airfields or private hangars and may not receive the necessary maintenance to ensure correct operation while in the air. Navigation, control, and landing systems are examples of essential equipment that should be properly maintained to avoid accidents.
Private aircraft pilots should follow all protocol when in the air, including following scheduled flight paths and using the correct identification when communicating to other pilots and to the ground. Straying from the scheduled flight path may lead to trouble and make search and rescue operations more difficult in the case of a crash.
Small aircraft can be extremely useful for commuting, entertainment, and general transportation. Safety should be first and foremost in the mind of the small aircraft, because when it comes to aircraft accidents, there is usually little room for error.