Light planes parked on the private airfield in summer

Late Wednesday evening, the NYPD received a phone call reporting something “going down in the water, with lights on,” one-and-a-half miles off the coast of Breezy Point, Queens. While investigatory police work is incomplete and still underway, much is known about both the plane itself and its flight history. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate that the plane, a single-engine, fixed-wing, “light sport aircraft,” was registered to one Mr. James B. McGee, of Rye, New Hampshire. This two-seater aircraft can achieve speeds of 115 knots, or 132 miles per hour. Flight records matching the wreckage which was taken from the scene indicate that this plane left New Hampshire, destined for Philadelphia, on Tuesday. The plane was traveling back from Philadelphia when it crashed off the coast of Breezy Point. These small, lightweight planes have “flight ranges” of approximately 1,000 miles. The term flight range refers to the maximum distance a craft can stay in-air on one tank of fuel.

It is not known exactly what caused this crash, or whether Mr. McGee was alone when the plane went down. In fact, while one death has indeed been confirmed, at this point it is still unclear as to whether or not Mr. McGee was the one piloting the craft. In the following sections, we will discuss why private planes seem to be more dangerous than commercial airliners, and what factors most frequently contribute to crashes.

 

Why Are Private Planes So Dangerous?

The most likely answer to this question, about why private planes are more dangerous than their commercial counterparts, is that the pilots of small, personal crafts are very often less experienced than professional pilots. Amateur pilots are required to log far less flight hours than professional pilots must in order to attain certification.

One of private planes’ ostensible benefits is actually also one of their downfalls, it seems. Private planes are small and nimble enough to land in private airfields and smaller airports. Compared to commercial airports, however, these destinations generally feature shorter runways, which are intrinsically more dangerous. Airports that do not cater to the commercial flying industry are likewise not held to the same industry standards. Commercial hubs are more well-maintained, well-lighted, and more comprehensively monitored by air traffic controllers.

Another major cause of plane accidents is that the plane in question runs out of fuel. Smaller planes have smaller fuel tanks, and it’s easier for an amateur pilot to miscalculate the amount of fuel necessary for a trip. Small fuel tanks allow for less leeway with these types of miscalculations.

 

Some Statistics & Safety Tips

“General aviation,” which is the term for all non-commercial flight, is measurably more dangerous than commercial flight. In fact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, in 2011 a full 94% of fatal aviation accidents occurred in general aviation. If you are private aviator, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when preparing for your trip.

  • As with most endeavors, a little forethought can go a long way. Before embarking on an aerial journey, make sure to carefully study weather reports. Not just for the departing and arrival locations, but also for the route in-between.
  • Map out any flight facilities that could assist you in case of an emergency, and refresh yourself of Air Traffic Control policies and protocols as they pertain to your flight.
  • Conduct a pre-flight inspection. There are many, many pre-flight steps that seasoned pilots take in order to ensure flight safety. Briefly, make sure that you meet the following criteria:
    • You have all required paperwork on board.
    • You have secured all hatches and tank caps.
    • You have gauged the air pressure in your tires.
    • You have inspected the surface of the wings of your plane.
    • You have inspected the full exterior of your plane.
    • You have double-checked the quality of your fuel.

This is an incomplete list of safety tips! Make sure that you are knowledgeable of ALL the rules before taking off.

Kaplan Lawyers PC

At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we are proud to employ a multitalented team of attorneys, whose joint experience covers every sector of personal injury. Which means that if you’ve been hurt in any sort of transportation accident, be it car, truck, boat, or even plane, we’ve got the right personnel to fit the particular needs of your case. And since so large a percentage of New Yorkers rely on public transportation, we also have specially-dedicated teams ready and eager to assist you if you’ve been hurt on a city bus, in a subway car, or on a passenger train. If you’ve been injured, your primary focus should be on recovery. While you focus on your health, Kaplan Lawyers PC can help win you valuable compensation. This compensation can help defray the costs of expensive medical bills, and will keep you financially secure if your injury forces you to miss time from work. If you’ve got any additional questions, or you’re ready to begin your legal journey, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.