In a recent aviation incident in South Dakota, one life was tragically lost and another injured due to an unexpected engine failure, as stated in an initial report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The single-engine Piper Malibu Mirage, dating back to 1997, plummeted near Pierre on the 23rd of October, claiming the life of a 76-year-old passenger, Hugh Alexander, and causing harm to the pilot.
The NTSB’s report revealed that the engine experienced a sudden halt while ascending from Pierre Regional Airport and then “rolled back,” as reported by KELO-TV. The pilot, Eric Meyer, reported no noticeable red flags or alerts before the abrupt power outage and was unsuccessful in restarting the engine.
Consequently, the plane descended into a region characterized by bluffs and undulating terrain. The aircraft was destined for Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the hometown of both men.
Aviation incidents are typically quantified by calculating the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours, giving a ratio that considers the number of operating aircraft and their time in the air. The latest accessible data indicates that the probability of being part of a deadly private aviation incident remains relatively minimal. In 2020, 1,085 general aviation incidents occurred during 19,454,467 flight hours. This results in an accident rate of 1.049 per 100,000 flight hours.
The death toll in aviation accidents is traditionally low, especially within the general and private aviation sectors. More than 80 percent of incidents do not result in fatalities. In 2020, only 205 of the 1,085 accidents were fatal, accounting for just under 19 percent of the total. This data corresponds to approximately 0.198 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours for general aviation flights. In contrast, commercial aviation reports around 0.03 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours.
The accident rate has also been steadily declining. From 2000 to 2019, private plane accident rates saw a 12.7 percent decrease, a significant improvement over the years. For perspective, in 1995, there were over 50 general aviation accidents per 10,000 general aviation aircraft; in 2019, this number had reduced to 30. According to Arnold Barnett, a recognized aviation safety and risk expert and a Professor of Statistics at MIT, the odds of perishing in a plane crash are extremely low.