The Killing Zone: How & Why Pilots Die

Front Cover
McGraw Hill Professional, Jan 2, 2001 - Transportation - 304 pages
This literal survival guide for new pilots identifies "the killing zone," the 40-250 flight hours during which unseasoned aviators are likely to commit lethal mistakes. Presents the statistics of how many pilots will die in the zone within a year; calls attention to the eight top pilot killers (such as "VFR into IFR," "Takeoff and Climb"); and maps strategies for avoiding, diverting, correcting, and managing the dangers. Includes a Pilot Personality Self-Assessment Exercise that identifies pilot "types" and how each type can best react to survive the killing zone.

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I love the idea of the book, and while I agree the killing zone is a real thing, this book does not do a great job in explaining this.
For starters, the 14th page of the book makes a careless math
error. Stating that aviation is TEN TIMES MORE DANGEROUS than driving... while in fact careful review of the math would suggest it's actually almost times safer. The book states 2.32 deaths per 100,000 hours, @ 150MPH = 2.32 deaths per 15,000,000 miles, or .154 deaths per 1,000,000 miles. When compared to the 1.41 deaths per 1 million miles, it appears aviation is ~10x safer.
Additionally the book spends the first 18 some odd pages explaining the research method, which in my opinion should have been footnotted and added to the appendix. I don't want to read the first 14 pages of a book on how you 'removed errors or outliers' from your research... of course you did this, any statistician would.

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An interesting look at an important subject, however, there is what to me appears to be a grievous math error on the fourteenth page into the book. The accident fatality rate for private aviation compared with ground vehicles is stated to be 10 times greater. Private aviation has a fatality rate of 2.32 deaths per 100,000 flight hours. In doing the math a couple of different ways, I find the comparison of aviation fatalities, to ground transport fatalities to be in error. I believe the author took the stated average rate of aircraft speed (150 MPH) and then changed it to 1.5 as a multiplier. This is not tied to another reference such as ground vehicle speed relationship, and though I would appreciate others validating my contention, it seems that a decimal got slid to the right by two places. Would others please verify this, and If I am correct, I would certainly hope the author would correct this, and attempt to rectify a rather terrifyingly high rate of deaths for private aviation. It is interesting to note that in the next paragraph, the author states that the rate for fatalities in airline operations is 0.65 fatalities per 100,000 flight hours, and airline flying continues to remain statistically safer than driving. If common sense math overview checking is applied, 0.65 compared with the 2.32 would be a difference of private aviation being less than 4 times (2.32/0.65= 3.57) as fatal as airlines. This is contradicted by the statement made in the paragraph above, that General Aviation is 15.4 times more likely to result in fatalities than driving. Those numbers in themselves when compared with each other speak to a large math error. It is hard to begin to accept the remainder of the books statistical information with what seems a gross error in the introduction to the subject matter. Again, I would appreciate peer review of my contentions. 


Chapter 1 The Killing Zone
Chapter 2 The Dangers
Chapter 3 Continued VFR into IFR Conditions
Chapter 4 Maneuvering Flight
Chapter 5 Takeoff and Climb
Chapter 6 Approach and Landing
Chapter 7 Runway Incursion
Chapter 8 Midair Collision
Chapter 12 Ice
Chapter 13 The Effects of Advanced Flight Training
Chapter 14 Instrument Flight CFIT
Chapter 15 Advanced Aircraft Accidents
Chapter 16 Pilot Personality
Chapter 17 Airmanship
Chapter 18 Accidents and the Media
Accident Statistics

Chapter 9 Fuel Management
Chapter 10 Pilot Health Alcohol and Drugs
Chapter 11 Night Flying

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About the author (2001)

Paul A. Craig, Ed.D., longtime pilot, FAA award-winning flight instructor, and aviation educator and author, designed and conducted the research described in this book based on his lifelong concern with the high accident rate among general aviation pilots, and in the process of earning his doctorate in education, with special empahsis on pilot decision-making and flight training. A Gold Seal Multiengine Flight Instructor and twice FAA District Flight Instructor of the Year, he has spoken widely to flight instructors and others on improving flight training and safety. He is the author of Be a Better Pilot; Stalls & Spins; Multiengine Flying, 2nd Edition; and Light Airplane Navigation Essentials, all from McGraw-Hill's renowned Practical Flying Series.

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