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Small doesn't have to be less safe

They’re called puddle jumpers and island hoppers, to name just a few. And while most of us have had an experience or two flying in small planes, because of their size some tend to think they aren’t as safe as larger aircraft.

Pilot and ISPLR raft.jpgThere may be a bit more turbulence to deal with, and the occasional brush coming into bad weather when your anxiety peaks on the small plane. But rest assured, the pilots are well-trained and have logged countless hours of flying time. Most importantly, the pilots follow as rigorous a safety check as when flying a large plane.

We’ve detailed some important safety tips, devices and equipment every small plane pilot should know, as we all should know as passengers.

  • Stay focused on what is typically called the “Three Eyes” -- a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS); enhanced ground proximity warning system (E-GPWS); and wind shear warning system.
  • Another key area to focus in on cabin equipment and safety devices. Safety equipment recommendations include:
  1. Airline style life vests
  2. Aviation life rafts. 
  3.  Oxygen masks
  • Pay special attention to the weather and be flexible if conditions are problematic. The FAA suggests always using caution. Pick another day to fly if conditions are beyond your capabilities.
  • Talk with fellow pilots about safety as often as you can to help instill a community-wide safety culture.Airport-Proof-115.jpg
  • Intervene if you see someone else doing something unsafe.
  • The FAA encourages small plane pilots, and associations made up of small plane pilots, to work on better reporting and sharing of key data throughout the aviation community. The intent is that this will help identify risks and come up with solutions to prevent further accidents.
  • Enhance your pilot testing and skills on a regular basis.
  • The FAA also encourages and recommends pre-flight planning. In addition to checking for mechanical issues, pilots should review safety equipment and plans in the event of an emergency. It is also critical to file a flight plan so officials know your whereabouts and routes you may be flying.

In-flight mishaps are rare, but do occur. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are more than 30,000 flights per day in the United States, with only a handful of accidents reported each year.

As a pilot, it is critical to make sure you know in advance the safety features, how well the plane is equipped with safety products and always be aware of what to do in an emergency.


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