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Forthcoming NTSB meeting to discuss advanced avionics safety

March 5, 2010, 07:50 pm

Few pilots would dispute the contention that advanced avionics make them better, more informed and safer pilots - but the National Transportation Safety Board plans to discuss glass cockpits in an online meeting next week.

On March 9, the agency said, a meeting will be held at NTSB headquarters in Washington to explore the safety impact that digital instruments have had on small aircraft.

In 2000, almost all light aircraft had analog instruments. Now - just a decade later - most aircraft have digital equipment - and such systems offer "enhanced function and information capabilities … that represent a significant change and potential improvement" for light-aircraft pilots.

The NTSB estimates that there are 1.25 fatalities for every 100,000 hours flown in general aviation planes - a good deal higher than commercial flights. But the rate of general accidents per 100,000 flight hours - 7.11 - is much higher than the fatality rate, suggesting that many pilots suffer survivable accidents.

Still, flying a small plane is, statistically, more dangerous than driving. And responsible drivers would not get behind the wheel without sufficient insurance coverage - so there's no reason not to get adequate insurance for an aircraft.

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