Context.— Most pilots survive airplane crash landings in small airplanes. Factors
associated with pilot death have not been well studied.
Objective.— To identify factors associated with fatalities in general aviation airplane
Design.— Case-control study.
Setting.— The United States.
Subjects.— All pilots in general aviation crash landings of airplanes with 10 seats
or fewer, from 1983 through 1992.
Main Outcome Measure.— Pilot death.
Results.— Pilots died in 437 (5.2%) of 8411 crash landings. A fire or explosion
on the ground was strongly associated with pilot death (relative risk [RR],
20.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 15.5-26.9), adjusted for pilot age, pilot
flight hours, type of landing gear, and the filing of an instrument flight
plan. Pilots who failed to use both lap belt and shoulder harness were more
likely to die (adjusted RR, 6.8; 95% CI, 1.8-25.5), as were those who used
only the lap belt (adjusted RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.2), compared with pilots
who used both restraints.
Conclusion.— Pilots may be able to reduce their risk of death in a crash landing
by using lap and shoulder restraints.