June 3, 2008
The second in a series of four AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Highlights studies validates both fixed-gear Piper Cherokees and retractable-gear Piper Arrows as reliable, sturdy favorites among aircraft owners.
The new safety review, scheduled for release in early September, will be mailed free to all FAA-registered owners of Piper PA-28 aircraft. The series is sponsored by the United States Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG).
As the Air Safety Foundation celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, it continues to expand its safety outreach to general aviation pilots with free publications, seminars, and videos.
Piper Cherokee and Arrow Safety Highlights also shows that some 81 percent of Cherokee accidents and 72 percent of Arrow accidents were caused by the pilot, mostly as a result of poor judgment. Similar pilot error rates were found in comparison aircraft. The total accident rate per 100,000 flight hours was 5.7 for Cherokees and 6.9 for Arrows, also approximately the same as comparison aircraft used in the study.
Faulty weather decision making accounted for the majority of serious pilot-caused accidents both in PA-28s and comparison aircraft. Continued VFR into low ceilings and poor visibility was the most common causal factor.
Mishap statistics for the Cherokee were compared with similar aircraft including the Beech Musketeer and Sundowner, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Cessna 182 Skylane, and the Grumman American AA-5 Traveler. Arrow accident rates were compared with the Beech C-24R Sierra, Cessna 172RG and 182RG, Rockwell Commander 112/114, and Mooney M20 series.
Although the overall accident record for the Piper models differed little from the comparison group, night accidents were higher for all PA-28 aircraft. In addition, the retractable-gear Arrow suffered a nighttime accident rate of 12 per 100,000 flight hours, 50 percent greater than the comparable aircraft.
"This is perhaps because the fixed-gear Cherokee is used as a trainer, and the Arrow is flown on more cross-country flights in diverse weather environments," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "Night currency doesn't equal night proficiency for cross-country operations."
The highest number of PA-28 accidents occurred during landing. Long landings were the most common problem in fixed gear Cherokees; hard landings were most common in the retractable gear Arrows. "Airspeed control and proper flare will go a long way toward fixing both those problems," observed Landsberg.
The 20-page Piper Cherokee and Arrow Safety Highlights also includes a training outline for both models, which concentrates on planning and operations in areas involved in higher PA-28 accident rates. The suggested course covers 5.5 hours of ground instruction and 5.5 hours of flight time and can be adapted to pilot experience.
A Safety Highlights review of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk was issued in 1999. Other new publications will be issued later this year and in 2001. All are sponsored by USAIG.
In addition to the free Piper Cherokee and Arrow Safety Highlights sent to all FAA-registered owners of PA-28s, single copies are available by request to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701, by calling 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672) or via the ASF Web site.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation was chartered in 1950 to help improve general aviation safety through research and pilot education. It is funded primarily by donations from individual pilots and corporations interested in promoting general aviation safety.
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