Crashes, and subsequent fatalities, of small private planes have "fallen to the lowest levels in decades" thanks to mobile devices that give pilots "much better weather information" than a few years ago, along with other benefits. These devices mainly include Apple's iPad lineup and, in 2015, helped contribute to the lowest rate of fatal crashes ever recorded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration: 1.03 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours (via Bloomberg).

iPad-Pro-Trio
As pointed out by John Hansman, an astronautics and aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the data should be "approached with care," due to the fact that there is far less information and data available on general aviation as opposed to commercial flights. Private airplane flights per year have also decreased, which would help lessen the overall chance for accidents in the first place. Still, the new data collected "jibes with broad new efforts to improve safety in that arena," according to Hansman.

“It’s encouraging,” said Hansman, who has studied private-aircraft safety data. “There are reasons to think it might be accurate. There’s a lot of things happening in the system that are slowly making it better.”

In reaction to these accidents, the FAA and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board moved to bolster each private aircraft pilot's safety levels, leading to the official approval of "weather and other programs for mobile devices." To improve the regulation of these aircrafts, the two administrations also approved ways to make it easier to add safety equipment to planes, including devices that warn of engine failure and the impending loss of control of the plane.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPad mini 5

Top Rated Comments

Richdmoore Avatar
61 months ago
I obtained my Private Pilot in 1992, my CFI in 1995, and started flying for the commuter airlines in 2000. In 2005 I shifted to Private fractional aviation, where I continue to work.

The iPad has been an amazing device for aviation since it was introduced. I purchased the original iPad on launch day, the following week I took it to training at FlightSafety for my recurrent training. I had multiple groups of both instructors and pilots surround me, evaluating it for general use (laptop replacement) and flight specific uses.

Now I am on my second company issued laptop. We removed almost all the charts (we keep a few foreign enroute charts for backup) and all other charts are on the iPad, saving huge weight and hassle keeping them current. We removed most of the aircraft onboard manuals, and now have more detailed manuals available than before. We are in the test phase of removing the aircraft logbook, all documentation of previous squacks will be electronic.

On the job injuries (due to the weight reduction of the paper manuals we needed to carry on our luggage) has actually decreased as well.

Onboard, when operationally necessary (due to expensive in flight wifi costs) we can even hook the iPad/iPhone onto the onboard wifi, increasing our situational awareness enroute.

A few months ago we started using an app that easily calculates our takeoff/landing performance, required for every takeoff (we always assume an engine failure every takeoff). It has a worldwide database and is more accurate than the old procedures that used paper tables. I can run a performance check in 60 seconds vs the 1/2 hour it took before, which makes it easy to redo in rapidly changing weather.

It has been amazing how fast the iPad has been accepted into the cockpit.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
61 months ago
I don't think big planes would be using iPads... let's assume that...
Not true. The big carriers like United and AA have replaced the bulk flight manuals with iPads in the cockpit.

Source -- http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/united-airlines/
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SandboxGeneral Avatar
61 months ago
Very nice to see technology contributing to enhanced safety in aviation and of course other areas as well.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RCAFBrat Avatar
61 months ago
I don't think big planes would be using iPads... let's assume that...
All pilots are benefiting from iPads and other forms of "electronic flight bag" devices in the cockpit, regardless of aircraft size. As suggested by Richdmoore, for more complex airplanes the iPad is used for some calculations and as a source of information that used to be available in paper form only (charts and manuals).

For general aviation airplanes, there are a whole host of applications available that improve safety even though some are not really approved / prohibited for commercial operations in particular ... examples may include charts and maps with position indicated to make navigation and avoidance of terrain much easier, electronic display of nearby airplanes using ADS-B receiver, indication of airplane attitude (not intended for navigation purposes), etc.

There are surely other factors that have contributed to improved safety such as better weather forecasting and availability of these forecasts, advances in airplane instruments and engines, availability of parachute recovery systems, improvements in training, etc but I don't doubt that relatively low cost / high benefit of iPads and other tablets has made an positive impact.

My two cents :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
61 months ago
1.03 fatalities per 100K hours doesn't sound even remotely good to me...

On the road, there's a fatality every 93M miles driven. Assuming highway speeds, that means once every 1.5M hours of driving, someone dies.

1 fatality every 100K hours means you're 15x more likely to die in a private plane than in a car.
I think you math may be off a bit. If the number is 1.03 per 100k hours, lets multiply the 100k hours by the average speed of a plane (I assumed 300mph) so that would be 1 death per 30M miles. Now that would still make driving safer by 3x compared to your stats. However, the reality is that most drivers drive alone or maybe with one other in the car, versus on a plane which usually carries many people. So fatalities per hour or mile is deceptive when comparing the two. Another way to look at this is how many hours or miles between accidents that results in fatalities. In that statistic it would be more favorable to the airplane.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iamgalt Avatar
61 months ago
1.03 fatalities per 100K hours doesn't sound even remotely good to me...

On the road, there's a fatality every 93M miles driven. Assuming highway speeds, that means once every 1.5M hours of driving, someone dies.

1 fatality every 100K hours means you're 15x more likely to die in a private plane than in a car.
That's why I always jump out of the plane at 2.5 miles up. It's much safer than staying in the plane, no matter what navigational apps they've got. :D
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...