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CDC Releases Study of Fatal Occupational Airplane Crashes in Alaska


Continued efforts to improve aviation safety are needed

(Anchorage, AK) — A study released today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that an average of five fatal occupational aircraft crashes and eight fatalities occurred per year during 2000-2010 in Alaska. Most of these crashes were due to weather, pilots’ loss of aircraft control and pilots’ failure to maintain clearance from terrain, water or objects.

“Although aircraft crashes in Alaska have declined since the 1990’s,” said Mary O’Connor with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “continued combined efforts by pilots, passengers, air carriers, government agencies, other aviation safety organizations and the aviation industry are needed for further improvements in aviation safety.”

According to the study, 39% of crashes were associated with intended departures or destinations at sites not registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, (such as gravel bars, mountain tops and lakes) which may have little information on weather and landing conditions there or en route, and may have minimal, if any safety equipment on site. Pilots need to be proficient and exercise good judgment when flying to and from such locations. Passengers should be prepared for worst case scenarios and should not push pilots to make unsafe decisions. Future safety interventions should focus on providing weather information and improving pilots’ situational awareness; proficiency in piloting skills and aeronautical decision making should be emphasized.

The complete study is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6025a1.htm?s_cid=mm6025a1_e%0d%0a

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