On New Year’s Eve, tragedy struck in Costa Rica as a Cessna 208B private aircraft crashed just ten minutes after takeoff from Punta Islita Airport. While recovery efforts are ongoing, Costa Rican officials have confirmed that twelve lives were lost, including those of two American families from New York and Florida. Reports from the investigation underway revealed that the crashed aircraft and flight crew had been grounded earlier that day due to extreme wind conditions.
The Cessna 208B “Grand Caravan” is a popular private aircraft that is frequently used to transport passengers or light cargo. According to the Aviation Safety Network, the model has been in production since 1984. Cessna aircraft were involved in two similar crashes in Maui, Hawaii and San Jose, California at the end of 2017.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, private small planes flown by amateurs as well as professionally piloted corporate flights in high-powered aircraft accounted for 93.7% of all U.S. aviation fatalities in 2016. General aviation pilots require a relatively low number of flight hours to pilot aircraft than their commercial counterparts. Unfortunately, most general aviation accidents involve some type of pilot error.
Takeaways: Rules and regulations are looser for general aviation than for commercial air travel, significantly raising passenger risk. When flying privately, be aware of weather conditions and your aircraft’s flight history. Diligence and careful vetting your travel plans can help mitigate vulnerabilities you may face.