Charter Ops Average 2.2 Accidents Per 100,000 Flight Hours,
FAA, NTSB and other agencies are quick to point out to
all who will listen that, by the numbers, this is the safest time
ever to fly -- with the last major crash involving a domestic
airliner occuring in November 2001, when an American Airlines jet
went down in Queens, NY.
However, the picture isn't as rosy when you consider another
segment of the aviation picture -- on demand operators. Or, more
specifically, small cargo aircraft -- the kind that fly small
packages and check stubs throughout the country -- as well as air
taxis, charter operators and EMS helicopters.
The Miami Herald reports that, on average... one of these
aircraft have been involved in a fatal accident every month, from
2000 to 2004.
The private air cargo auditing group Robert E. Breiling
Associates told the paper that in 2004 alone, small cargo planes
averaged 2.2 crashes for every 100,000 hours of US operation --
compared to rates of 0.11 for corporate jets, 0.13 for scheduled
air carriers, 0.90 for business travel and 1.51 for scheduled
Furthermore, these accidents are up to 50 times more likely to
result in fatalities, according to the NTSB.
Alas, the only category with a higher crash rate is general
aviation -- whose accident rate is nearly three times higher.
The Herald does not go into detail on ways to solve this
problem... but it cannot be argued that better training would go a
long way towards bringing that rate down. Many on demand operators
also fly older planes... with older systems and avionics, as
opposed to the newer technologies found in more advanced