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5 Of The Most Common-Sense Ways To Avoid An Accident

When accidents happen, it usually comes down to the same basic things each time. Here's a list of the NTSB's top causes of GA accidents, and what you can do to prevent each one.

1) Watch your airspeed, especially at low altitude

Stall/spin accidents are notoriously dangerous. Remember that you can stall at any airspeed. And when you increase your bank to 60 degrees, your stall speed is 41% higher. Don't use excessive bank in the pattern, and if you overshoot final, go around.

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2) Avoid VFR flight in low visibility

5 miles sounds like a lot of visibility, but it's really not once you see it from the air. According to the NTSB, two-thirds of all GA accidents that occur in reduced visibility are fatal. Most of the time, it's because of spatial disorientation or controlled flight into terrain.

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3) When your plane makes unexpected noises, pay attention

The third most common event that leads to fatal GA accidents is a powerplant system or component failure. If you lose your engine (or an engine component), never stop flying the airplane.

4) Good maintenance can make all the difference

According to the NTSB, system and component failures are one of the most common causes for fatal GA accidents. Make sure you're getting your plane in for scheduled maintenance, and that you're keeping up-to-date on ADs and service bulletins.

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5) Don't make risky decisions, and when in doubt, stay on the ground

It sounds like a no-brainer, but it's not always that simple. External pressures, get-there-itis, and a whole gamut of decision making errors can lead to an accident. In fact, the NTSB says that nearly every fatal GA accident has some type of poor risk management or aeronautical decision-making involved.

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Err on the side of caution, and you'll have nothing but blue skies for your entire flying career.

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at colin@boldmethod.com.

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