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Very alarming statistics

Guest Fred Bear

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Guest Fred Bear

Ultralight death toll spinning out of control




AUSTRALIAN ultralight aircraft pilots and their passengers are dying


at an alarming rate.


Research shows that Australian ultralight fliers are about six times


more likely to die for every hour flown than if they flew in general


aviation aircraft.


At least 39 ultralight pilots and passengers died as a result of air


crashes from March 2001 to January 2006. Many others were seriously


injured. Some have been left mentally and physically disabled for the


rest of their lives.


There is no single Australian Government register containing data


about the death toll per flying hour in ultralights.


But an in-depth analysis of official crash statistics gathered from


different official sources shows that in the six years from 1992 to


1998 an average of 7.25 ultralight pilots or passengers were killed


for every 100,000 hours flown.


That figure is in stark contrast with the general aviation death rate


in the same period of 1.23 deaths per 100,000 flying hours.


Further, while Australian Transport Safety Bureau statistics indicate


that agricultural flying is the most dangerous form of general


aviation flying in <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region>, it is still nearly three times less


likely to result in a death per number of hours flown than ultralight




The comparison is even worse for ultralights when it is considered


that they are only permitted to fly in good weather, during daylight


hours and for recreational purposes. In addition, the total number of


ultralights in use in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region> is roughly one-third the number of


general aviation aircraft, they are typically airborne for shorter


periods, fly over much shorter distances, and carry fewer




Australian Transport Safety Bureau records show that a total of 78


people died in ultralight accidents between 1985 and 1999 - an


average death toll of nearly six a year.


At least 46 more died in ultralight crashes between January 2000 and


January 2006 - a total of 124 deaths from 1985 to 2006 - with the


average number of deaths per year increasing to nearly eight a year


in the six years to 2006.


The toll has escalated dramatically since 2001. While seven


passengers and pilots died in ultralight accidents from January 2000


to March 2001, there were at least 20 deaths Australia-wide from


March 2001 to November 2003. Another 12 died from November 2003 to


July 2005, with seven more killed in the last six months of 2005.


As well as those killed, many others have been maimed. For example,


70 were seriously injured in 324 ultralight crashes reported to the


Australian Transport Safety Bureau by the Australian Ultralight


Federation from 1985 to 2001. In addition to those killed in 2003, at


least five sustained major injuries.


Injuries range from bone fractures to catastrophic burns, amputated


limbs, spinal injuries, and brain damage.


Beside the personal and family tragedies associated with each death,


the Australian Bureau of Transport Economics estimated in a report it


released in March 1999 that every aircraft fatality in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region> cost


the community $A1.5 million.


"Costing was based on productivity losses in the workplace, home and


community, (which made up 59 per cent of all costs), property damage


(18.5 per cent), human costs using non-economic court award values


(14.3 per cent), and other costs such as investigation, medical,


emergency services, legal and insurance,'' the report said.


Based on those outdated estimates, deaths in ultralight accidents


from 1985 until January 2006 cost the Australian community a minimum


of $A186 million.


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I believe this is the origin of the story but is is hard to dispute the statistics


Why use computer-assisted reporting methods?


After attending the scene of a fatal ultralight aircraft crash and reporting on the accident, the writer became curious about the safety record of ultralights. A search of official Internet sites relating to air safety in Australia revealed there were no published statistics that could be used to directly compare accident rates of ultralights with accident rates of "normal" light aircraft. In response to inquiries with the Bureau of Transport Economics I was sent hard copies of raw statistics listing the dates of fatal ultralight accidents. The information did not mean much by itself, so from there it was a matter of going to the Internet and gathering freely available data which could be used to develop a meaningful statistical comparison. The biggest problem was that the statistics were scattered. The task was to find them, bring them together and then do the maths.



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Guest micgrace



who ever said, lies, damn lies and statistics. A simple fudge factor would appear to be incorporated (without seeing the report) the definition of GA vs Ultralight. What, exactly, are the definitions?


If I had the actual statistics an actual statistical test on real world conditions (apples with apples)could be performed to estimate the actual probability.


I'm sure I have seen an almost identical "report" about the US/Canada a month or two ago. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.





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Guest Fred Bear



This is the source of the article, complete with phone numbers of the author (he's in QLD) and appears to be a professional in the area.


I believe the figures sound plausible. Anyone who adds up all the fatalities as they occur in the papers would realise that they are probably very accurate. If I recall correctly, figures like these were used by the SAAA in the recent attack against RA-Aus regarding the 1000kg sector.


Thinking about how many people have died even whilst this forum has been running, that is alarming too. Also, the part about the high number of injuries is valid too. Like the road toll , say 350 for the year, for every 1 fatality there are another 52 injuries. I can't see why flying would be any different.


I do get the feeling that the powers to be aren't all that forth-coming with accident totals, but I stand corrected if I'm wrong. I'd like to know more about the topic. That being said though, I question what could be done about it without further analysis of the root cause.



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OK, so what's his angle on this?

Just another doom crier, and I'll bet at the end of the day he gets into his car to drive home and risks joining the 1500 people that get killed every year on the roads!!


I guess his header was catchy though.... 011_clap.gif.c796ec930025ef6b94efb6b089d30b16.gif





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Sounds like the guy has just done this out of curisoity and has come up with some frightening figures. It would be interestng to compare these figures with what the RAAus as on file. It would be benificial to see if there are any tends being set over a period of time, and look at changing a few things in the training sylibus.It would not have anything to do with pilots training in slower and lighter aircraft and then moving up to something that is a little more heavier and faster with a bit more complexity to it.? A breakdown of these figures are needed before trying to work out if it is a exageration of figures.


OZZIE ozzie



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I would wonder his definition of an Ultralight is - has he included gliders, experimental aircraft etc in his figures - has he gone off the media that calls rotary wing kit as an ultralight???


We know for a fact that in the last year alone there have been more deaths in the experimental category then ultralights (2 lancairs with suburu engines springs to mind).


For statistics to be believed there must be reference to the parameters of the data.


I hope Techman if he has time can comment on these numbers?



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Guest Ken deVos

Ian wrote: For statistics to be believed there must be reference to the parameters of the data.


Most aviation deaths and injuriesinvolve aircraft contacting the ground. Most accidents are in the circuit area and most occur while attempting to land or takeoff.


It seems to me that commercial airliners takeoff, then travel many hours before joining circuit and landing. In contrast, ultralight pilots generally do the opposite and without ATC.


Ken deVos



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Guest Juliette Lima

Exactly Ken


The stats.perhaps need to be relatedto landings....another issue might also be relativity to the substantial (perception) increase in aircraft in this category throughout the period....look at growth in narromine easter fly-in....The stats whilst troubling are lacking somewhat.





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Provided the figures are accurate and there is nothing to indicate that they are not, perhaps this should be a wake up call as these statistics are how our organisation is veiwed safety wise by any observer.


There really is no need to "relate to landings" an accident is an accident and action needs to be taken to prevent any futher problems.


Just looking at it, it would logically have to come down to training and maintenance, things that a number of people have been pointing out as problems for a considerable time.


There is no doubt these statistics will be used by those whose agenda they suit, but that does not change the fact that they exist and the sport can be perceived to have a serious problem that needs to be addressed.



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Guest Fred Bear
We know for a fact that in the last year alone there have been more deaths in the experimental category then ultralights (2 lancairs with suburu engines springs to mind).

There have never been any Lancairs crash with Subaru engines. Two Lancairs crashed this year. One was a low time pilot who got "lost" and "confused" in bad weather,his speed got low and he crashed - details on the ATSB website. The second aircraft was fitted with an IO-360 Lycoming, as per the first aircraft (hence the name Lancair 360). The second aircraft was being flown and worked on by a qualified LAME when the engine failed and it crashed after a long time out of the air on maintenance. There is a significant number of RA-Aus registered aircraft fitted with Subaru engines which any blame cannot be attributed to.


Like it or not a large number of RA-Aus registered aircraft are "experimental" as you put it. Seperating RA-Aus from GA registered Experimental is irrelevant anyway if you are talking about the "class of aircraft." 95.10 is "experimental" and essentially no different to GA registered experimental aircraft.


If I (we) want to fly an aircraft and I want to know what my chances of crashing are, I (we)should be looking at aircraft class (eg experimental), not the registration of the aircraft to makeour own judgement.





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I find it hard to believe tht the accident rate is so high. Reading the RAAus magazine Middo has kept us informed when we backslide, and berated us as necessary.


GA has had an improving rate of accidents and the airlines are very safe although the latest crash may be due to pilot error in a serious way.


The real figures which concern us should be available from RAAus and they should be able to show trends.


Of course there have been fatalaties with non registered aircraft and pilots, plus there are a few cowboys who are flying on borrowed time and they don't seem to want to change their attitudes.





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Provided the figures are accurate and there is nothing to indicate that they are not' date=' [/quote']








Sorry, but there is everything to indicate that these


figures are garbage, not necessarily intentionally but the range of sources


that the author used means that they are comparing unrelated figures.


When you select apparently related figures from different sources you usually


find that the figures were, naturally, compiled using different criteria, to


suit the purpose of the person assembling that particular data. So when you get


a third person trying to relate 2 figures from 2 sources you get a predictable


result, GIGO, garbage in, garbage out.<br style="">


<br style="">


While logic would indicate that these derived figures would


be close such figures are often wildly misleading and you don’t know which you


have unless you have good data to validate against, in which case you have no


reason to use the dodgy data.


I deal with this sort of data all the time and unless you can validate the data


back to a common origin it's best consigned to the collex bin.



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There have never been any Lancairs crash with Subaru engines.

- I read so much for the aviation news forum each day perhaps I got my wires crossed but I do recall 2 aircraft with Suburu engines that crashed as I made mental note about the engine type but as for the aircraft type then I must say ???
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Guest Prometheus

As Superman once said... "Flying is still statistically the safest way to travel" ;).gif


On a serious note though, I have heard of horror stories with regards to very poor training and pilots being issued cross-country certificates who couldn't find a beer in a brewery and knew nothing of fuel planning. smiley5.gif



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Guest Ken deVos

The (press) article bySTEPHEN LAMBLE is emotionally and sensationally written.


Whether or not the figures are accurate is perhaps immaterial to the writer's intent. Unfortunately, these types of articles will sway the rule makers.


As turtle wrote:


the sport can be perceived to have a serious problem that needs to be addressed


If the problem really exists, then we need to address the issues with training and maintenance etc. However, if it is a'perception' at issue, then do we need more PR effort in the media?


Ken deVos



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Guest Fred Bear

Per kilometre, General Aviation flying rates third behind Parachuting and Motorbike riding and just above Lawn Bowls. I've seen so many articles saying the same thing.


Flying IS dangerous compared to driving, because the millions of cars out there driving from A to B without crashing makes flying unsafe because there are so few aircraft out there in comparison to cars.


The safest form of travel as we know is Commercial RPT Jet aircraft. Fact.


As for reducing the number of U/L crashes, I'm open to suggestion, however it does start with regimented training, raising of maintenance requirements and eduation.



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As you say it is is emotionally and sensationally written and on reading very alarming.


The sort of comments "I deal with this sort of data all the time and unless you can validate the data back to a common origin it's best consigned to the collex bin."


seem to be hope that this type of data can be just ignored and it will go away.


It will not go away


After a look at the ATSB Stats it is concerning to find that all the dates I looked at confirmed the report and also that it is a logical and reputable source for this information.


It will not go away and there really is no other answer than to recognise that there is a perceived and indeed real need for change in the way things are managed.


As Dave noted it appears to many at first glance, thatsome training and licencing is questionable. Any outsider would be in awe that the trainer is also the licence tester in an area where the tested level of competance is so important. There appears to be a questionabe conflict of interest there.


Also with the lack of "qualifications"required to maintain an aircraft.


Rather than trying to sweep this issues under the mat and ignore them perhaps it would be a sound idea for all to band together and look to ways to reverse those undisputable accident statistics.



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Guest Juliette Lima

Some Analysis and facts,


Sure accidents are worrying and issues of training and airworthiness need to be under constant revision.


Mr.Stephen lamble is an academic journalist at the university of the sunshine coast....on occasions,journalism implies sensationalism.


If the stats. are presumamby correct ,then Mr. Lamble states the following...


1992-98 7.2 deaths per year


1985-99 6 deaths per year


2000-06 7.6 deaths per year


There is no relativity to hours flown from 2000-06


There is no mention of the substantial growth in recent years in Recreational flying.


In reality,the relative deaths might actually be declining.


Am I a little frightened each time I commit to flying ?....you bet.


Am I constantly striving for safer flying ?.......................you bet


Is my aircraft fully inspected prior to each flight ?..........you bet.


Do I constantly look for safety tips and information?.....you bet.


Do I get upset when I hear of an accident?


Like most of us, I do.


Perhaps Mr.Lamble's article should be headlined







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you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story! every Journo's first rule.


next thing you know people will be telling me its dangerous to ride my motorcycle to work every day!


come to think of it, more people tell me im Nuts for flying an Ultralight than riding a very high performance motorcycle!



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