Crashes of instructional flights

Susan P. Baker, Margaret W. Lamb, Guohua Li, Robert S. Dodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: A pilot's basic flight training influences his or her entire flying career. Instructional flights are involved in more than 300 crashes annually and in 36% of all midair collisions. Research was undertaken to identify the circumstances of crashes of instructional flights and to describe related factors. Methods: We analyzed NTSB data types and 2-page descriptive briefs for 638 crashes that occurred during 1989 and 1991 and that involved a student pilot or a flight for instructional purposes. Results: Loss of control on landing characterized 36% of all crashes, and crosswinds contributed to 28%. Stalls occurred in 15% of the series and 46% of all fatal crashes. Trainees on solo comprised 56% of the series; 193 of the 360 students who crashed on solo did so due to loss of control on landing or takeoff. Touch-and-go landings accounted for 22% of all crashes on solo. Among the 84 crashes on cross country solos, 26 (31%) were due to running out of fuel. Instructors were present in 50% of crashes from stalls and 32% of crashes from fuel starvation. Simulated emergencies ended in 49 crashes. The NTSB identified instructor factors as contributory to one-third of cases. Conclusions: Greater emphasis during flight training needs to he placed on avoiding stalls and midair collisions, managing crosswinds, and understanding the dynamics of takeoffs and landings prior to solo touch-and-go practice. Instructors contribute to crashes both directly during dual instruction and indirectly through failure to successfully monitor their students and convey the elements necessary for safe and proficient flight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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