Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to back plane crashes; Are small planes too dangerous?

Investigators are trying to figure out why two planes crashed less than 24 hours a part. 50-year-old Christopher McKenna died Saturday after his ultralight aircraft went down just North of Niles.

Then Sunday, a Mooney M20J/201 (N5763H) crashed at the Warsaw Municipal Airport after crosswinds tipped the plane as it tried to land.

Luckily the pilot and his son walked away without a scratch but things could have been worse.

The aircraft hit one of the gas tanks but completely missed the airport’s fuel farm and there were no gas leaks. The Flight Line Technician said it was one of those miracle moments where god somehow put him between those tanks, he said he has no idea how he did it.

The United States hasn't seen a commercial airliner go down for more than three years, so does that mean smaller private planes are more dangerous to fly?

After seeing back to back crashes many people are probably thinking they are, but in reality with the proper precautions they may be safer than you think.

In these two accidents the pilots most likely did nothing wrong. One Flight Line Technician said back to back crashes are simply a fluke. In fact, he says it is safer to fly than it is to drive.

“We had all of those multi-car accidents; you have a lot of them. They are in the news all the time. It’s very rare that you see somebody in an aircraft” says Jim Rautenkranz

“In my career this is the first aircraft crash even though it was a single ultralight plane involved that I've investigated” says Sgt. Steve Barker

But what can make one crash fatal while another is left without even a scratch. Jim said part of it is the grade of the planes.

“An ultralight is like a powered hang glider there’s really not a lot to it. It has a little body on it, tricycle landing gear wheels and a motor in the back and a huge wing. They are very light; hence forth the term ultralight and they are basically at the mercy of the winds” says Rautenkranz

“Now this one, you are talking about a couple tons here. A Mooney is a high performance plane with landing gear over 200 knots. They are heavy, they are thick, they are very well controlled, and they have all the gadgets…” Rautenkranz continues.

But no matter the aircraft you fly, Jim said its weather conditions that play a role in safety. He said in addition to checking weather conditions, know where you are going, and know who's in the area and who else is flying. He said all of those things will help keep you safe.

  Regis#: NA        Make/Model: EXP       Description: EXP- ULTRALIGHT
  Date: 01/27/2013     Time: 0139

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

  City: NILES   State: MI   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   1
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Cruise      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SOUTH BEND, IN  (GL17)                Entry date: 01/28/2013 

No comments:

Post a Comment