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Alaska: Disproportionate air crashes

June 30, 2011 at 6:29 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, June 30 (UPI) -- A disproportionate number of commuter and air taxi crashes occur in Alaska -- one-fifth of all U.S. commuter and air taxi crashes occur there, officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says from 1990 to 2008 there were 1,566 commuter and air taxi crashes in the United States, but approximately 20 percent of the fatal crashes and deaths occur in Alaska.

The report, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says working as a pilot in Alaska is a risky occupation. From 1990 to 2008, aviation crashes in Alaska caused 147 occupational pilot deaths -- not including military -- an average of eight pilot fatalities per year.

These 147 fatalities over 19 years among a commercial pilot workforce of approximately 2,600 result in an annual pilot fatality rate of 298 per 100,000 pilots, the report says.

"Pilots need to be proficient and exercise good judgment when flying. Passengers should be prepared for worst case scenarios and not push pilots to make unsafe decisions," the report says. "Future safety interventions should focus on providing weather information and improving pilots' situational awareness; proficiency in piloting skills and aeronautical decision making should be emphasized."

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