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Why do so many small planes crash?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2021 | Small Airplane Crashes

If you pilot a small plane or regularly ride in one, the unfortunate fact is that your plane is far more likely to crash than a commercial plane.

In fact, as reported in High Sky Flying, approximately three small planes crash every day in the US.


Most small planes crash for the following four reasons:

  1. Pilot error
  2. Mechanical faults
  3. Weather
  4. Landing conditions

Pilot error

Student pilots must log far fewer hours to receive a license to fly a small plane than they need to fly a commercial plane. Consequently, they have considerably less flying experience. In addition, they may not possess knowledge of, and experience with, the latest avionic tools and safety technologies. Add this to the fact that small plane pilots seldom have a co-pilot, and passenger safety rests solely with one person’s ability to control the plane.

Mechanical faults

Most small planes have only one engine. If it fails, no backup exists. In addition, small planes do not have to go through the rigorous pre-flight inspections commercial planes receive. Usually, if the pilot says the small plane is airworthy, it is. So again, the experience and judgment of one person are all a passenger has to rely on.


The weather becomes a much greater factor for small planes than for commercial ones. For one thing, small planes have far lower altitude maximums, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a pilot to fly above a storm. For another, the relatively low weight of a small plane makes it more likely that unexpected winds will buffet it.

Landing conditions

Finally, small planes often land in unfavorable areas, such as grass airstrips, open fields and any number of other less-than-ideal places.

Given all of the above, if safety is your main concern, you may wish to reconsider flying in small planes.