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Thread: Are "Certified Aircraft" safer than "Experime

  1. #1
    cubflier's Avatar
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    Are "Certified Aircraft" safer than "Experime

    I am trying to find a simple answer to this question.

    Are "Certified Aircraft" safer than "Experimental Aircraft"?

    I am refering to light GA aircraft so that there is a fair comparison.

    I'm looking for any statistical data out there that one could arrive at a valid conclusion.

    Thanks in advance for any help on the subject.

    Jerry
    If it looks smooth...it might be

    If it looks rough...it is!!

  2. #2

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    You can't answer that simply. With a certified airplane there is basically one question. Who maintains it? With an experimental you have two questions. Who built it and who maintains it?

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    One of my beefs with the EAA is they dont have an accident report section for Sport aviation. I did read somewhere that the accident rate is thirty times that of general aviation. This was based on per 100.000 hours flown. I think I read it at an FAA web site. Look harder and correct me if Im wrong.

  4. #4
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    I think you have to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

    For example, are you comparing a Piper Cub replica vs. a certified Piper Cub? I don't think you are going to find a significant difference there if any in accidents. Now are you comparing the entire class of experimental aircraft vs. a Cessna 172? So you then lump in KR-2s, Lancair IV-Ps, Cubby's, Delta Dykes, Long EZs etc vs. Cessna 172, Piper Archers, etc. I don't think that is a valid comparision.

    Keep in mind the spirit of experimental allows a lot of latitude and well, yes experimentation.

  5. #5
    cubflier's Avatar
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    Bugs

    I not really looking for a perfect apples to apples comparison since the two categories are different. My curiosity is simply is there a significant difference in the accident rate between Certified and Experimental categories.

    When I said fair comparison I want to keep it to light certified GA aircraft since the experimental kit planes are typically of that size range.

    I also could not figure out how to use the NTSB Query to do my own research. I assume there are some comparative statistics out there but I could not find any.

    Jerry
    If it looks smooth...it might be

    If it looks rough...it is!!

  6. #6
    d.grimm's Avatar
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    EXP. VS Certified

    So many differences, builder, pilot, etc. I think that is why only a few homebuilts have any resale value, and that speaks volumes about that aircraft type.

  7. #7
    rrb's Avatar
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    Although not scientific, couldn't you answer the question by calling an insurance broker and asking for a quote on two different aircraft that are comparable in price and characteristics? Practically speaking, if the accident rates are higher for experimentals won't you get a higher quote?

  8. #8
    Grant's Avatar
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    I am not sure the data you're looking for would really do you any good in determining which certification to go for. There is tons of info on this site alone. Many of the experimental aircraft are easy to fly and some are not, regardless of pilot skill. I think that certified aircraft are the exact same way. The questions you should be asking are:

    What is my mission (define your nominal useful load, stall speed, cruise, TOLD, etc)
    Determine what certified aircraft would fit the mission
    Determine what experimental aircraft would fit the mission
    What are your plans for aircraft resale

    Then take all the information, throw it out the window and buy the first airplane you see. (all jokes aside your mission and your budget are the factors you must consider) I have, in the past completed prepurchase inspections and recommended to the buyer to walk away. The problem is that the buyer has "Fallen in love" with the aircraft and unless I set him or the aircraft on fire he will disregard my advice and buy it anyway. I am sure other mechs. on the site would agree.

    Take your time, decide on an aircraft, go fly one, evaluate your budget, purchase the best one you can find.

    And to answer your question. I don't think you will get any useful data from the NTSB or the EAA directly. You may find a way to download the accident database and do your own custom querries on the data versus the standard NTSB search fields. I think you may be able to find some useful data doing it that way but you will need to have some database skills and know what you are looking for.

    PM me if you need some help with the database, I'm sure we can get the data you need if we can get that database downloaded.

  9. #9
    Grant's Avatar
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    Okay, I found the data. Go here and open the page in FTP. Then download the files you need. It looks like they are MS Acess files. Let me know if you need help.

    ftp://www.ntsb.gov/avdata/Access95/

    It looks like you can download each year or all years

  10. #10
    cubflier's Avatar
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    Grant

    I'll give the database thing a try and see what I come up with. If I get bogged down I'll give you a shout.

    Thanks,

    Jerry
    If it looks smooth...it might be

    If it looks rough...it is!!

  11. #11
    Grant's Avatar
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    okay just let me know.

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    I'm not a statistics "expert" per say, but I have been accused of watching NTSB reports way too closely.

    In my humble observations here is what I've found. Experimental aircraft builders either put out safe aircraft or they don't. They tend to "tinker" more so they'll take a risk and fly 'er around the patch one time to see if that last change made any difference. So that doesn't really make them less safe, just test pilots.

    They tend to trust their aircraft more and therefore fly more often and do silly things like stretch their fuel reserves, or maybe ignore a maintenance issue that they'll "get to" later on. Right now let's fly . . . .

    I have seen a disproprtionate number of mysterious crashes for experimentals that I think fall into the "crimped fuel line" under the seat rail category. Or maybe the control failure from a badly swaged Nicopress coupling. Or improperly/reverse rigged airplane.

    The bottom line is most pilots put lots of faith in their $8/hour oil change wizards(no disrespect meant to more experienced A&Ps) that do the 100 hour inspections for them. They never dig into the inner workings of the planes they rent or perhaps own. So when you go into the experimental category you ARE that responsible person, and you inherited all the systems and maintenance that thousands of engineering hours have gone into for certificated aircraft. You either know what you are doing, or are fat dumb and happy and content that your airplane "mostly" works ok.

  13. #13

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    The Sept. '06 issue of Kitplanes magazine had quite a lengthy article on kit vs. cert safety. It isn't real great with details but might be a place to start. A second part of the article takes a look at the cause of homebuilt accidents and breaks them down fairly well.

  14. #14

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    I thought the Kitplanes article was good. Basically Failure to Control accidents were lower in homebuilts. Also maintenance error accidents were lower in homebuilts when maintenance error was the Initiator of the accident. When both the initiator and secondary causes were maintenance error homebuilts had more accidents than certified. Anyway get the mag and read it for more info.

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    I've heard of guys with Lancair IV's who's insurance was over $15,000 yr, IF they could even get it. I have a friend who has a Caravan on amphibs that's only paying just over $20,000.

  16. #16

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    Anybody check on homebuilt Cub vs. Certified? If there is a lot of difference in insurance rates here, that should be a good data point for Cub nuts.

  17. #17

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    My RV6 and Supercub insurance rates are the same for the same value.

    The RV series airplanes are a very proven design. A FBO that rebuilds certified and has build over a dozen RV's tells me that you could leave half the rivets out and the RV would be stronger than most certifed airplanes. I feel very secure in my RV in nasty turbulance.

    Many homebuilts are high performance and used for aerobatics, this could be a factor in accident stats.

  18. #18

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    experimental

    I also think that an experimental pilot is a test pilot .I still fly one at times
    i guess its all about how mutch money you put in a project, i have seen
    some experimentals with excellent craftsmanship,and some certified in not so good shape .it all comes down to money and
    wat you want to do with it.

  19. #19
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    Is that Caravan rate a "commercial" policy or private use? Holy cow that's expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank T
    I've heard of guys with Lancair IV's who's insurance was over $15,000 yr, IF they could even get it. I have a friend who has a Caravan on amphibs that's only paying just over $20,000.

  20. #20
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    I dont think its the "Caravan" part as much as the "Amphib" part that makes it so spendy on insurance.

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