Crashes of Commuter Aircraft and Air Taxis

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Pilots have been recognized as an occupational group having very high work-related death rates. Commuter aircraft and air taxis are far more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than are larger airplanes. To examine the factors related to pilot survival in commuter aircraft and air taxi crashes, we analyzed National Transportation Safety Board data for the years 1983 to1988. Case fatality rates were calculated for the pilots-in-command and odds ratios were estimated from a multivariate logistic regression model for variables related to pilots, aircraft, and circumstances. During the 6-year period, 536 people were killed and 744 injured in 888 commuter aircraft and air taxi crashes. The pilot case fatality rate was 20%. The most important determinants of pilot fatality were postcrash fire (odds ratio [OR] 8.2), off-airport location (OR 8.1), bad weather (OR 4.3), and nonuse of shoulder restraints (OR 3.7); all were significant at P < .01. Crash survival could be enhanced by more crashworthy fuel systems, aircraft seats, and use of restraint systems in commuter aircraft and air taxis. The value of shoulder restraints for pilots in these aircraft is confirmed and their use should be vigorously promoted.

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