II found the Letter to the Editor you published in the Dec. 10 issue by Brian Sheets, “Sport Pilot: A disaster waiting to happen,” to be interesting.
I recognize that the letter represents his opinion, however, I think it really missed the point that relates to all flying safety, not just the new Sport Pilot certificate.
It has been shown statistically that the most dangerous time for all pilots generally occurs in the experience range from 300 to 500 hours. This is not a factor of the amount of training a person receives, but rather a function of the pilot’s attitude at the time of the accident.
Next, the amount of training and instruction time a student requires before he or she is able to demonstrate that they are able to safely operate an aircraft is dependent on the skill of the instructor, the learning environment and the ability of the student to learn. It has nothing to do with regulatory requirements.
Additionally, any student is required to demonstrate his knowledge and skill to an examiner before being certified to perform as pilot in command of an aircraft. There are no exemptions.
Once certified, the pilot, regardless of certificate, Sport Pilot or ATP, is required to operate in accordance with the regulations that apply to their certificate and the limitations that the regulations specify.
I have studied many accident reports and have been the last qualified person to observe or talk with others just prior to their having an accident, some fatal. I have found that there is a very common thread to most accidents. Flying is approximately 90% mental, 9.9% physical, and .1% just plain luck. Subsequently, most accident reports show the cause to be “pilot error.”
So what is the point here? It is not the amount of training or experience a person has that determines their suitability to act as pilot in command of an aircraft, but rather their attitude. As an FAA appointed aviation safety counselor, I have made numerous presentations. I have a saying that sums up the situation very well: “It is not the attitude of the aircraft that kills pilots, but rather the attitude of the pilot that kills aircraft.”