November 8, 2003
A new study by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation dispels some commonly held beliefs many general aviation pilots have about stalls and spins. The results of the study, developed using data from the ASF GA Safety Database, are available free online.
"A common misconception is that student pilots are most likely to suffer fatal stall/spin-type accidents," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "ASF's research shows that's completely untrue. Pilots with commercial pilot certificates are far more likely to be involved in such accidents, and private pilots aren't far behind."
Stall and spin-related accidents are among the most deadly types of GA accidents, with a fatality rate of about 28 percent, and accounting for about 10 percent of all GA accidents. Fatal stall/spin accidents most often begin at or below traffic pattern altitude (generally 1,000 feet above ground level), well below the altitude necessary to recover from even a one-turn spin. From that altitude, even pilots with aerobatic training stand virtually no chance of recovery.
Spin training for private pilots—advocated by many old-time flight instructors—appears to be of little benefit in reducing the incidence of stall/spin accidents, although it may be educational in showing pilots what aircraft can and cannot do. Stall/spin accidents, many in training, have declined dramatically since the elimination in 1949 of mandatory spin training for private pilots.
The ASF database that forms the basis of this study is available online so that pilots may review for themselves hundreds of accident reports.
ASF's report on GA stalls and spins is the first in a series of Air Safety Foundation Topic Specific Studies. The series is based on research using the ASF Safety Database, the largest non-governmental compilation of GA accident records in the world. It is made possible by a generous grant from Mike Lazar, ASF Board of Visitor member, the Emil Buehler Trust, and individual pilot donors who believe that GA safety is to everyone's benefit. To find out how to help ASF efforts in research and pilot education, visit the ASF support page on the ASF Web site.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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