Instructor perceptions of the accident likelihood faced by recently trained glider pilots

Steve Jarvis, Don Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: UK glider pilots with less than 10 h of solo flying time have been shown to have the highest accident rate and be most vulnerable to accidents during the ' final approach' phase. Method: There were 58 gliding instructors who were asked to indicate what experience level they thought was associated with the highest accident rate and provide the reason behind their estimate. They were also asked to rank six flight phases by the relative probability of accidents to inexperienced pilots. Results: The mean estimate for the accident peak was 296.3 h as pilot-in-command (SD = 337.9) with no instructor giving a figure of less than 10 h. Common reasons for these estimates were ' over-confidence', 'risk-taking', or 'complacency'. Instructors also ranked six flight phases by the likelihood of an accident being caused by inexperienced pilots during that phase. Despite the approach phase having the highest objective accident probability, it was only ranked fifth by instructors, indicating an underestimate of the danger it presents to newly trained pilots. Discussion: The results suggest that instructors do not appreciate the high accident likelihood of early solo pilots or the main dangers they face. This has implications for the decisions made when sending pilots solo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1097
Number of pages5
JournalAviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Accidents
  • Experience
  • Flight-phase
  • Gliding
  • Instructor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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