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Josh-D. S. Davis

Xaminmo / Omnimax / Max Omni / Mad Scientist / Midnight Shadow / Radiation Master

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Flying vs Driving
Pilot, Aviation
joshdavis
Fear does not define risk except in the case of performance anxiety. This came to mind after reflecting on a conversation with a friend. His statement was something to the effect of, "Of course flying yourself [for 45 minutes] is more risky than driving [for 3 hours]. If you don't believe me, just ask Erica if she's afraid of you flying."

2 non-actors' fears of an activity (or 2000 people) does not make it more risky. The situation and conditions define the risk. 2 pilots flying a plane with which they are very familiar is generally recognized as safe. There are stats on this. Drop it down to one pilot, but also drop out any cloud flying, and the actual risk is difficult to define.

Unless you're an insurance company. Liability for death-from-above is about $215 per year for me. According to Plane & Pilot, the average pilot flies about 40 hours per year. That means the risk per hour is about $5.38 for all incidents (dings, scrapes, crashes, etc). Compare to car insurance. My liability, if I had one car, one driver, would be about $638/yr. TheCanadianEncyclopedia, quoting some numbers from Honda, claims the average NA driver spends about 15 hours per week in their car. That means the risk 82 cents per hour.

In this case, GA flying is about 6.5 times higher risk than driving, based on insurance costs and fuzzy stats. This is pretty close, when you compare to Harry Mantakos' "Is GA Flying Safer Than Driving?" His research into stats shows GA flying to be about 5 times more risky than driving based on a high-average GA airspeed of 150 mph (it's more like 120).

It's also important to know that most GA flying is single engine, single pilot. Accident statistics show dual pilot operations have a substantially lower fatality rates than single pilot.

By comparison, Airline travel, which is 2-pilot (or more), has lower much number of fatal accidents, but a very slightly higher fatalities per million miles due to the number of people who can die per accident.

Also, I don't know how to factor in that my auto insurance is $100k liability, but my plane insurance is $1m liability. It's definitely not linear, but still.

Anyway, the point is, the research and statistics define the risk, not the fear.