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Crash course in accident reportingCrash course in accident reporting

A video of a Cessna 414 bound for John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, Aug. 5 showed the twin-engine airplane in a nosedive to the ground, killing all five on board. Alarmist media reporting has the public incorrectly thinking airplanes fall out of the sky in any accident scenario. One pilot/reporter is setting the record straight.

KTLA’s Christina Pascucci, a pilot, spoke about the misconceptions surrounding airplane accidents.

Speaking from her own firsthand experience while flight training, Pascucci says a number of factors could have played into the accident. She explained that an engine failure would cause an airplane to glide rather than plummet to the ground, noting that the Cessna 414's nosedive may have been caused by an aerodynamic stall that led to a spin.

Pascucci also spoke about asymmetric thrust, in which one engine on a twin loses power and thrust from the "good" engine and drag from the failed engine make the airplane difficult for the pilot to control.

“It’s nice to see an aviation-savvy reporter in a major television market attempting to accurately inform the public about how airplanes fly and pointing out that they don’t just fall from the sky when things go wrong,” said Tom Haines, AOPA senior vice president of Media, Communications, and Outreach. “We appreciate Pascucci sharing her insights with her audience.”

While the NTSB conducts its investigation, Pascucci said she wanted to take care of any misconceptions or sensationalism often seen in the media when these types of aircraft accidents occur, like a recent report from ABC’s Good Morning America. George Stephanopoulos, anchor of the network’s morning show, warned of “new concerns about flying in small planes.” ABC correspondent Gio Benitez noted there were 347 fatalities in general aviation in 2017 and played video from two other accidents. However, the improvements in general aviation safety weren't mentioned.

According to AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, fatal accidents are down more than 50 percent since 1994 despite an increase in flight activity: 2017 proved to be a record year with the GA accident rate at an all-time low of 0.84 accidents per 100,000 flight hours for fixed-wing aircraft in noncommercial activity.

To continue this positive safety trend, the Air Safety Institute creates and delivers a wide variety of online educational programs—award-winning interactive courses, webinars, accident case studies, flight instructor refresher courses, and safety videos that reach hundreds of thousands of GA pilots each month.

Amelia Walsh

Communications Coordinator
AOPA Communications Coordinator Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she comes from a family of pilots and is currently working on her pilot certificate.
Topics: Aircraft, Aviation Industry, Pilots

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