Aviation accidents: Male verses female pilots

The Daily  Express has recently reported that a Scots trainee pilot who died alongside her brother in a plane crash last year was at fault for the accident according to the US’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Carly Beattie, who was studying in the US as part of her pilot degree, was at the controls of the Cessna 152 aircraft when it plummeted into a Florida swamp killing both her and her brother Danie.

After a year long investigation, the NTSB report that just came out stated that the "probable cause" of the crash was the pilot’s "failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin." However, there have also been reports that the aircraft leasing company had problems in the past with their aircraft.

Of course we will never know for certain exactly what happened and whether the pilot was to blame or it was a problem with the aircraft but the Winged Victory: Women in Aviation Ezine has recently brought attention to a short article about pilot errors and differences based on gender (Note: Its not clear who wrote the article or when it was written but it does include a number of citations and let’s also be clear that we are not passing judgment one way or the other on the tragedy involving Ms. Beattie). Specifically, the article pointed out that:

  • Studies have shown variation in aptitudes, skills and cognitive abilities between men and women with the largest cognitive gender differences being in visual-spatial abilities. Apparently, research has proven that males possess greater visual–spatial skills than females but females may have better verbal skills than males. The former skills would be important when it comes to take offs and landing procedures, traffic avoidance and basic maneuvering of the aircraft while the later skills would be important to maintain safe air traffic control communication along with cockpit crew coordination.
  • Another study has found that the most common cause of crashes was loss of control during take offs or landings with 59% of female accidents and 36% of male accidents happening with either as a cause. Moreover, female pilots were found to crash more due to mishandling the aircraft while male pilots were found to crash more due to inattention and/or flawed decision making.
  • The ratio of pilot error between male and female pilot (from 1983 to 2002) reveals that female pilots may have a slightly higher proportion of pilot errors but another recent study found that male general aviation pilots were more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than their female counterparts. Those results support another finding that male general aviation pilots take more risks than female pilots and hence, have more fatal accidents.

With the above studies in mind, we would love to hear what you our readers think. In other words, do you have any anecdotes that back up or refute the above study findings? If so, feel free to tell us in a comment.

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2 Responses to Aviation accidents: Male verses female pilots

  1. NICK GRAVINO September 28, 2012 at 14:19 #

    I have flown with 4 women, 3 intstructors and 1 flight engineer. 2 of the women were excellent instructors. One was a famous WWII WASP Pilot. 1 was killed in a Powder Puff Derby. The Flight Engineer was a basket case, she was so far behind the b727. She got the fuel out of balance. The captain told her to balance the fuel, so she dumped it. She eventually killed herself in an aerobatic accident. I turned her into the chief pilot for not adhereing to the checklist.

  2. Larry February 28, 2014 at 17:27 #

    ‘After a year long investigation, the NTSB report that just came out stated that the “probable cause” of the crash was the pilot’s genitals.’

    I find this article as ridiculous as the above sentence.

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