Whether a Billings resident flies in airplanes often or not, most airline passengers have some concerns regarding their safety in the air. Much trust is placed in the pilot. However, a pilot might encounter circumstances that could lead to issues during taxiing, flight or landing. While situations such as weather conditions and mechanical errors are out of the hand of the pilot, most of the flight operations are based on the decisions of the pilot. Therefore, when pilot error occurs, this could be the major cause of an aviation accident or air taxi crash.
Although many occupations correlate experience with age, there are some concerns regarding the age of a pilot and pilot errors leading to aviation accidents. Specifically, one may want to know whether or not the age of a pilot is associated with the prevalence and pattern of pilot errors. A few years ago, researchers investigated this topic by looking through statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board.
This study looked at 1,751 air taxi crashes and found that 28 percent were caused by mechanical failure, 25 percent by loss or control during landing or takeoff, 7 percent due to visual conditions, 7 percent due to fuel starvation, 5 percent during taxiing and 28 percent due to other causes. When assessing the crashes occurring among older pilots, it was reported that such accidents were more likely to occur during the daytime and off the airport.
When it came to pilot errors, the study found there were similar rates across all age groups, and included errors such as flawed decisions, inattentiveness, mishandled aircraft kinetics, mishandled wind and runway conditions and other similar errors. The study made an overall conclusion that the age of the pilot was associated with crash circumstances, but not the prevalence of patterns of pilot errors occurring during air taxi crashes.
While the statistics from this study are several years old, they do strongly suggest that age of the pilot is not a significant factor in aviation accidents. Following an airplane incident, it is important that a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the cause of the crash. This could help injured victims and the loved ones of the deceased pursue compensation through a civil action.