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Are Private Planes More Dangerous?

Flying in a private plane is much more dangerous than taking a commercial flight. In fact, a contributor from Live Science claims:

“Private planes are nearly as deadly as cars.”

Private plane crashes are frequently associated with celebrities or high-level executives, but they are not nearly as rare as they seem.

While the commercial airline industry has improved its accident rate by almost 80% in the last 10 to 12 years, the general aviation industry, which includes private and recreational air travel, has not.

Compared to cars, private planes are used less frequently, but when the statistics are flattened, private planes may be just as, or even more, dangerous than the leading cause of transportation deaths in America (cars).

The Numbers

According to a 2010 NTSV report, there is about 1 fatality per every 100,000 hours of private air travel. When the same math is applied to car accidents, there is 1.1 death per every 2 million hours of travel. Considered on these terms, there are nearly 21 general aviation fatalities per every 2 million travel hours, suggesting that boarding a private plane is approximately 19 times more dangerous than getting behind the wheel of a car.

Although general aviation accidents have dropped by 75% since the 1970s, they have increased by 20% in the past decade, and fatal accidents have increased by 25%. Most private plane crashes are caused by pilot error and many occur when pilots lose control of their aircraft. Another common problem comes from weather events and what aviation experts call “flying blind.”

Differences in Design

Additionally, private aircraft are built differently than commercial planes and lack the safety features and back-up plans that keep commercial flights in the air. For example, some private planes only have one engine, which is unheard-of for commercial aircraft. If one engine fails in a private plane, the plane will crash, but if one engine fails in a commercial craft, the other engine will take over and keep the plane afloat.


Further, private pilots are held to lower standards than commercial aviation professionals. Training requirements amount to a check-in every 2 years, as opposed to the rigorous training process completed by commercial pilots.

As commercial airline fatalities grow nearer to zero, general aviation enthusiasts hope to apply some of the same training and safety tactics to private flights.

In the meantime, however, general aviation still accounts for about 94% of airplane fatalities, and both pilots and passengers should be aware of the risks.

You Are More Than a Statistic

Aviation fatalities are unacceptable; we understand that for every statistic above, someone has lost their life, and their family’s lives have been changed forever.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one to an airplane accident, our team at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC sends our deepest condolences. We are also available 24/7 to help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Most general aviation accidents are caused by pilot error and negligence, so if you or your loved one was not operating the plane at the time of the crash, we can pursue justice on your behalf.

To get started, call us at (512) 271-5112 and schedule your free consultation today.

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