The question about whether single-engine planes versus multi-engine planes are safer has been asked recently. Until now I had not grouped the jump plane accidents here in those types of categories. You can click here to see the results that will update as accidents are added to the database.

The database goes from present day back to 1982. In the USA there are 256 single-engine jump plane accidents (flying skydivers, ferry flights and maintenance flights). There are 65 multi-engine accidents. Does this make multi-engine planes safer? If you look at fatal accidents for each kind we find 16% of single-engine accidents were fatal while 38% of multi-engine accidents were fatal. So, if you are in an accident in a multi-engine plane you are much more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. But again, does this make multi-engine planes more dangerous? If there is an engine failure event many pilots would prefer a multi-engine plane as modern twins will usually continue to climb on one operating engine rather than being forced to descend as in the case of a single-engine plane. Many times in a multi-engine plane the aircraft circles back for a normal landing at the departure airport and is a “non-event”. In single engine planes you are committed to a landing wherever you are. Some pilots attempt the “impossible turn” back to the departure runway after takeoff which is not just a 180 degree turn but rather 360 in total resulting in loss of control and crashing with fatal results.

So why might there be so fewer total accidents in multi-engine planes? Generally, multi-engine pilots have more flight experience. They are likely to have taken more check rides which allows for more opportunities to learn from experienced pilots. They are likely to have an instrument rating which teaches the pilot the importance of smooth aircraft control and increased scanning of the instruments. Basically, they are more aware of what the plane is doing.