You probably think you know which aspects of flight training are riskier and which are benign. Maybe you’re right.
Find out with this quick quiz. It’s based on the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s analysis of 2,401 accidents (as defined by 49 CFR Part 830) that occurred on instructional flights between 2002 and 2011 as summarized in our report on Accidents During Flight Instruction.
1) Compared to airplanes, the rate of fatal instructional accidents in helicopters was
B) about the same
Answer: B. There were 0.61 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours in airplanes and 0.57 per 100,000 hours in helicopters—not significantly different.
2) The fraction of primary training accidents that occurred on student solos was _______ in airplanes than in helicopters:
A) more than 50 percent lower
B) 10 percent lower
C) 15 percent higher
D) nearly three times higher
Answer: D. Two-thirds of accidents during fixed-wing primary training took place on student solos, which accounted for just one-quarter of those in helicopters, a ratio of 2.67-to-1. ASI believes that the greater amount of dual instruction helicopter students often acquire before first solo is a major factor in this discrepancy.
ASI defines “advanced instruction” as flights where the client already holds a pilot certificate for the same category of aircraft (e.g., airplane). These include noncurricular instruction such as flight reviews and aircraft checkouts, as well as seaplane, instrument, commercial, multiengine, and CFI training.
3) In airplanes, accidents on dual flights were ____________ likely to result in fatalities during advanced compared to primary instruction.
C) about equally
Answer: A. About 11 percent of dual accidents in primary fixed-wing training were fatal compared to 19 percent of those during advanced instruction—an excess risk of nearly 75 percent.
4) Does the same pattern hold for helicopters?
Answer: B. In helicopters, only about 5 percent of dual accidents were fatal in primary and advanced training alike.
5) About __________ of all accidents on fixed-wing student solos occurred during takeoffs, landings, or go-arounds.
Answer: D. Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds collectively accounted for 699 of 870 accidents during fixed-wing student solos, or 80.3 percent.
6) Accidents during advanced fixed-wing instruction chiefly occurred while training for new certificates or ratings.
Answer: B. More than 60 percent of the accidents whose narratives identified the type of instruction being provided (287 of 468) happened during flight reviews, instrument proficiency checks, transition training, instruction towards tailwheel, complex, or high-performance endorsements, and other types of specialized or recurrent training.
7) The single largest number of advanced fixed-wing accidents happened during _______________. The largest number of fatal accidents occurred during ____________.
A) commercial training
B) instrument instruction
C) tailwheel instruction
D) transition training
E) multiengine instruction
F) training for an initial flight instructor’s certificate
Answers: D and B, respectively. Transitions to unfamiliar models accounted for 17 percent of the total, running just ahead of multiengine training at 14 percent. Surprisingly, instruction for the instrument rating not only saw the largest share of fatal accidents at 21 percent, but had the highest proportion of fatalities of any category at 41 percent. However, only three of the fatal accidents were due to deficient execution of instrument procedures. Five were midair collisions, including one between two aircraft doing hood work.
8) The most prominent cause of helicopter accidents was
A) practice autorotations
B) engine failure
C) rotor or flight-control failure
D) dynamic rollover during hover work
Answer: A. To anyone who’s done or even watched rotorcraft training, this is pretty much a gimme. Autorotation practice accounted for 36 percent of all helicopter training accidents (147 of 409), including 41 percent (142 of 345) of those during dual instruction. It’s our impression that few if any helicopter schools authorize students to attempt autorotations on solo flights.
9) Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds also accounted for the largest share of accidents during student solos in helicopters.
Answer: A. True, but the proportion was far lower—29 percent compared to 80 percent in airplanes.
10) Accidents resulting from losses of engine power or other mechanical problems were ______ survivable in airplanes than in helicopters.
B) about equally
Answer: A. In airplanes, fatalities resulted from seven percent of these accidents. In helicopters, the proportion was over 10 percent, a nearly 50 percent excess.
How’d you do? If you scored a perfect 10, then we clearly can’t tell you anything. If you got eight or more, you’re pretty well-informed—but if you got seven or fewer, or missed more than one question about the category(ies) of aircraft your school operates, you might just benefit from a careful reading of the full report. You’ll find it online.