Recently, a small engine plane went down in Safety Harbor, killing the
pilot and seriously injuring his daughter and teenage friend. While the
cause of the accident is still under investigation, experts say more privately
owned planes in the air means more small
plane crashes, despite the majority of them being wholly preventable.
According to the
Tampa Bay Times, this latest plane crash happened when Jeffrey Bronken decided to take
his daughter and her best friend, both 15, to Florida for some sun and
a break from the Chicago-area winter. They had made the trip before, but
this would be their last together.
At about 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the plane went down. People living
in the residential area said the power went out and a huge noise filled
the neighborhood. The plane had hit powerlines as it came down, landing
on its nose with its tail pointing into the sky.
Bronken died on impact. The two teens were rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital
in Tampa in serious condition.
Small engine plane crashes largely preventable
In a 2013
ABC News report, then-NTSB chief Deborah Hersman said that 97 percent of all plane
crashes happen in general aviation, not commercial flights. She said that
while domestic commercial airlines are safer than ever, small engine plane
crashes occur on average around five times each day, accounting for some
500 deaths nationwide each year.
Rich Stowell, a pilot and flight instructor known as the "Spin Doctor"
for his ability to come out of a nose dive, says that the pilots on small
planes typically aren't trained how to recover from an emergency.
They aren't given the basic lessons on how to overcome their anxiety
and perform when the pressure is on.
Stowell's method of instruction includes putting these pilots through
the wringer, teaching them to come out of dives, spins, and rolls caused
by high winds and turbulence.
Fuel issues may have triggered Florida crash
The Federal Aviation Administration says Bronken radioed air traffic controllers
that he was having fuel problems. He may have been trying to land in the
street when the crash occurred. The plane clipped a 2-inch thick power
line as it came in, possibly sending it straight into the ground.
Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are involved
in the investigation.
Reports say Bronken's daughter's social media accounts have been
filled with photos of her and her father with the plane over the past
Pilots' "inattention to basics" blamed in many crashes
Crashes in private-pilot flights have risen 20 percent since 2000, coinciding
with an 85 percent drop in commercial airline accidents. According to this
Bloomberg report, some aviation experts say pilot inattention to basic flight safety protocols
is often to blame. Overloading planes, failing to check weather in advance,
or making simple in-flight piloting errors can prove fatal.
The solution isn't clear. Regulations already exist and Tony Fazio
of the FAA's Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention says
he believes the regulations are adequate and that pilots can't "crash
an airplane" without breaking at least one of these regulations.
Instead, he surmises, better adherence to private-pilot practical test
standards is needed. In other words, pilots simply need to be more vigilant