Is CAP flying safer than the rest of GA?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by asicer, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. asicer

    asicer Cleared for Takeoff

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    So this is directly related to @CC268 's questions about risk exposure since CAP generally flies the same planes as the rest of GA (C172, C182, C206, etc). Does anyone have any stats on CAP's accident rate that they can cite here?
     
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  2. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'm pretty sure they have some sort of standardized procedures and they need to that "checkride" to maintain qualification. I would assume they have a pretty good safety record. Not sure if any statistic exists though
     
  3. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's part of the government, they have more hoops to jump through and more paperwork, must be safer lol
     
  4. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's more regimented with a check ride (form 5) every year. You always have an extra set of eyes on your plan, weather, etc. before you are even released. You can't just take a plane up into questionable weather. The planes are consistently maintained.

    So yeah, it's probably got a better safety record than some other sectors of GA.

    Personally, go fly. Enjoy yourself. Mitigate risk as much as you can. Stop worrying about what the stats say.
     
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  5. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Even if one flight has an issue, often the entire wing (state) is on a stand-down for review of procedures, etc. Couple years ago we even had a tow bar remain on during flight. Last month one of the fire extinguishers was used to put out a fire on a Cirrus, so the airplane was grounded because the extinguisher is required equipment as per CAP rules.

    Don't believe consistently maintained means correctly maintained. One of the 182s came out of the shop with the mechanical trim correct, but the electrical trim was wired wrong....But they still took off - forgot to run the electrical trim all the way even tho it's on the checklist.

    And no, it's not part of the Government. CAP is a 501(c)3 corporation that is separate from the DOD & the USAF. However, Congress needed some way to fund the organization, so the USAF got the job to handle administration and funds allocation. At any time, Congress can move it from the USAF to another administrative entity, if it so chooses.
     
  6. Flying_Nun

    Flying_Nun Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Speaking as a former squadron Commander, CAP does have many procedures in place to mitigate risk. These include evaluating the flight parameters as well as the annual check rides for pilots. Any crew member also has the authority to abort the mission if they are not comfortable with what is happening.

    However, like everything in aviation, stuff still happens. CAP has its share of mechanical issues. The most common seem to be failed mags/alternators/cylinders and flat tires. Bird strikes are also a commonly reported mishap. There was a period several years ago when tail strikes were occurring regularly. There have been a few runway departures and and ground handling mishaps as well. In my Wing there was a rather infamous incident where the pilot managed to strike a runway edge light with the wing causing a fuel leak, which was identified after parking the aircraft. The pilot then decided to resume the flight and return to base. He no longer flies CAP airplanes.

    To my knowledge though, there haven't been any cases of bodily injury or death in a CAP airplane on an approved mission for at least the past several years.
     
  7. Ben

    Ben Filing Flight Plan

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    Is it true you need an instrument rating in order to fly CAP Planes? This is coming from a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol.. wondering if I'll be able to fly a CAP Plane in the next couple of years after I get my PPL.
     
  8. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    No, it's not true.
     
  9. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Fatal accident rate, or property damage accidents? I have a suspicion by how many folks don't care for the equipment when someone else owns it, they're probably as high or higher than rentals, when it comes to property damage without injury/death.
     
  10. vontresc

    vontresc En-Route

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    They have the highest paperwork to flight hour ratio of any GA flying out there... :D

    Plus you get to AF Cosplay
     
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  11. genna

    genna Line Up and Wait

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    I'm sure folks care about their own planes more. OTOH, it's easier to use other people's money(CAP) to address any issue that may arise. Owners may defer things more.

    Compared to rental, I think pilots care more about CAP planes. Accident rates are probably lower.

    1. There are no PPL students.**
    2. As annoying as some of the procedures are, for most, I think, it forces some oversight as well as some consequences. With rental, you can always go to another place. CAP, once you mess up, it may be permanent or at least with a bunch of hurdles to climb.
    3. You are also prohibited to fly in many of the conditions I would otherwise have no problem with a rental.
    4. I rent and fly CAP... I definitely care about CAP plane in our squadron more than rentals even though i fly it less.


    **Edit: Cadets can pursue PPL training up to solo, I think. Seniors cannot. Only ratings.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017 at 2:24 AM
  12. genna

    genna Line Up and Wait

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    On the flip side. A lot of CAP missions are low and slow...
     
  13. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Safer than the rest of GA? Depends on what you want to include in "the rest of GA".
    Safer than corporate jets? No.
    Safer than your once a month weekend warrior? Yes.
    It just depends.
     
  14. chartbundle

    chartbundle Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There are, of course, PPL students. Cadets are authorized to pursue their PPL in CAP airplanes(generally 172 only without special authorization). Any member is authorized to pursue their PPL in CAP gliders or balloons.
     
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  15. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    Gotta find the right squadron to skip the cosplay. We just wear polos, meet once a month, and I get three hours of paid proficiency a month. The local DPE, a flight school owner, and two corporate pilots are all part of our group.

    Senior only makes a difference.
     
  16. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    well, not exactly true all the time, everywhere. Most of the folks in my sqdn fly in the blue polo shirt. Don't think many of us have a flight suit. I don't.
     
  17. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Sure you can work on a rating, but I'm not sure cadets are allowed to solo in the 182 or 206. Would have to go look at the regs again, they change far too often.
     
  18. asicer

    asicer Cleared for Takeoff

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    Safer than non-CAP 172/182/206. In other words, all else being equal do CAP missions/pilots have a lower accident rate? Are there any stats to show it?
     
  19. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Anything that rises to the level of an accident that is reported on by NTSB is handled by them, so you'd have to search their database for the CAP owned tail numbers and then decide how you'd correlate their number of flight hours to the rest of the fleet.

    So no. I doubt there's any reasonable numbers.

    I don't believe the safety incident system is public, although frankly, it should be, considering where the funding comes from.
     
  20. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Not to beat a dead horse, again, but since GA flight hours are an unknown, there ain't no "rate" to compare against, other than swags.

    CAP maintenance varies from solid to sketchy, across wings and regions. Mostly it's on a par with a concientious FBO. And mostly it's contracted out, and really no better or worse than anyone else's. In 13 or so years of flying CAP, there were two planes I wouldn't fly twice, and I'm not a safety fanatic.

    Our pilots were ATPs, LEOs, ex-military, and regular GA guys, with the usual smattering of imbeciles that can always find a way into a cockpit. Anecdotally, the mob wasn't really diffrent than the rest of GA pilots, except for having a recognizable call-sign when they screwed up.

    The annual checkride for just boring holes is a low bar; not a tough pass, but varies wildly across the country. The Mission Pilot checkride isn't about aircraft handling so much as doing operational stuff, and only modestly rigourous.

    There isn't (or wasn't when I quit) a "dispatcher" that can override weather or maintenance decisions made by the PIC - just a "flight release officer", often a non-pilot, who checked a pretty lame web site to ensure your quals were current. CAP made a lot of superficial noise about ORM, but it was just another hoop to most pilots, without much cred.

    CAP doesn't fly a lot of IFR operationally, and the "low and slow" comment is relative, unless you consider 1'000 AGL at 90 knots, in a 172, low and slow.

    There was some occasional higher risk stuff, like night flying as a target for interceptors, out beyond tbe ADIZ, but that isn't frequent or regular.

    So, there is a lot of day, VFR CAP flying; they strive to get 200 hours per year on each airplane, but can have trouble reaching that goal, as the bureaucratic hurdles can/can be a pain, depending on where you are and who you know.

    My intuition is CAP may have a little better safety "rate" than GA in general, but not wildly better.
     
  21. asicer

    asicer Cleared for Takeoff

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    Plus, if it were better than average you'd think they'd want to publicize it.
     
  22. airdale

    airdale Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Very odd CAP thread. The CAP-haters have not shown up to yet-again provide their tired old anecdotes of CAP screwups. Nice.

    From a 7 year perspective, involved with CAP pretty much only for flying and flying-related activities:

    As is frequently said, CAP is a volunteer organization and most aspects vary greatly from squadron to squadron and from state to state. So that is overriding.

    My experience with the annual Form 5 check ride has been positive and I think they do improve safety. I look forward to them, frankly, because the instructors that I choose are good guys and do actually help me sharpen up or improve my game. I remember one G1000 ride where we flew a VOR approach using only the RMI needles on the PFD. Great fun! Who ever does that any more?

    Re safety, IMO the most important reason to think safety is better is this: CAP flying is a sort of sheltered workshop. Flights are rarely long, rarely IFR, and almost exclusively daytime. WX planning is almost as simple as looking out the window and fuel planning is often unimportant. In the majority of cases, too, there are two guys in the cockpit. Yes, there is a population that includes idiots, infrequent flyers, and low-timers but that is true across GA.

    Regarding flight releases, that probably varies. As an "Air Branch Director" on training and actual missions, I can and do override pilot decisions from time to time. I am also careful to make sure I assign tasks with consideration of the pilots' abilities. I remember one time where I had a pilot I didn't know, who was a big-mouthed braggert from out of state and I assigned a pilot of known quality to fly right seat with him and report back on his flying ability. So, if the release officer's potential power is exercised properly, there is the potential for improved safety.
     
  23. John D. Trolinger

    John D. Trolinger Filing Flight Plan

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    I learned to fly and became a pilot thanks to the CAP. The few years spent at CAP provided me with training and experience to get to the 500 hour level safely. Highly recommended if you can find the right group or squadron that fits you.
     
  24. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Cleared for Takeoff

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    CAP flys 23% safer than the rest of GA.
     
  25. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    These statistics are over seven years old, but they're the latest I've found so far:

    CAP Safety Statistics 2008-10.png
    Source (scroll to bottom)
     
  26. labbadabba

    labbadabba Cleared for Takeoff

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    Only at night over water.
     
  27. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    I'd kinda take those stats with a grain of salt. . .ethics haven't been a strong point at the National HQ, Region, or even Wing levels. Plenty of good folks, of course, but the overall corporate culture is sketchy.

    CAP call signs and aircraft paint jobs are obvious, so anytime a CAP pilot screws up, it gets noticed, vice the nearly anonymous nature of generic Cessnas. We did have some weak suck pilots, for sure - but in about the same proportion as in GA as a whole.
     
  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If the numbers were phony, I would expect to see a steady downtrend. ;)
     
  29. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Would any calculations include a CAP member in a non-CAP aircraft? Maybe not.

    Also, do other stats include the operator or just the pilot and plane involved? Maybe not.
     
  30. airdale

    airdale Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    A couple of things:

    As someone has already said: Not true. Everything you might want to know about CAP flying is here: https://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/R060_001_132EEB0197465.pdf Reading that thing will also give you a taste of the bureaucratic minds that you'll be dealing with. Life's a tradeoff; If you want to fly their airplanes, you jump through their hoops.

    Re stats and dishonesty, CAP corporate culture abhors delegation and is highly punitive of errors. The culture is also very fond of collective punishment. The effect of this, in my experience, is that all levels do a lot of covering-up and outright lying to superiors. This behavior cannot prevent NTSB-level accidents from being reported but it does hide a lot of minor stuff like hangar rash, including things like prop stoppages (aka "strikes") in, for example, tall grass where the transgression is known only to those in the aircraft. And, yes, National staff is no different and will have tried to shade their numbers to present the most favorable case. Just IMO, of course.

    Example: A few years ago they installed a national database system for entering aircraft squawks. Consistent with the non-delegating culture, every single squawk was automatically reported to multiple state/wing authorities and to various National HQ panjandrums. The result was that our wing/state direction (in writing!) was to minimize use of the squawk system so that (unstated) wing maintenance didn't "look bad." There was at least one airplane flying around with flaps that would not go to full deflection and we were verbally prohibited from reporting that in the squawk system.
     
  31. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    CAP only requires its members to report mishaps that arise out of CAP operations. Using a non-CAP aircraft on a CAP operation requires permission from the wing commander, and would therefore be rare. I'm not aware of any systematic means for CAP to track flight activities of members in non-CAP operations. So I would say that there is very little chance that the numbers include non-CAP operations.

    What other stats are you referring to? And what do you mean by including the operator?
     
  32. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yikes!

    I'm a squadron maintenance officer and haven't received any directives like that, so either we're in different states, or it happened before I was assigned to this duty.

    If I ever did, it would be the end of my tenure in this position, and if the policy didn't get reversed, it would be the end of my membership.
     
  33. Jason608

    Jason608 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Is CAP more than "reconnaissance missions for homeland security, search and rescue, disaster relief"?
    Do you get access to planes for personal use?
     
  34. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I'm questioning the validity of the slide you posted about CAP "safety" in 2010. What reporting is required of a CAP member in non-CAP equipment?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm glad people enjoy being in CAP. I'm glad it subsidizes their flying. I'm glad they do SAR missions.

    It's not for me, and I'm not a CAP-hater, but I do question the statistics.
     
  35. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Uh....this doesn't make much sense, I own an airplane. I am a CAP member. One has nothing to do with the other. The "operator" and owner of a CAP airplane is the CAP corporation. The pilot is a CAP member.
     
  36. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    As a CAP member - are you required to report anything that occurs in your airplane and your automobiles?

    The graphic in post 25 implies CAP pilots are safer than the general population.

    I thought I asked a relatively easy question: Are those rates for all members, or for members while operating CAP equipment.

    Case in point. I'm in a club... I had an incident in my personal plane. The club can proudly boast no incidents? OR The club can accurately report no incidents in the planes and 1 incident among members? OR IF a former member had an incident in a non-club plane the club incident history is now 2, while only half the offensive pilots are still involved.
     
  37. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I'd believe this if I didn't know it's impossible to hide the repair bills.

    Sounds like your Wing that needs a visit from an outside IG and a USAF budgetary oversight officer who has dealt with stuff like that before if it's as bad as you say it is.

    But again, not quite buying it, since someone paid the bills to repair the aircraft.

    And if I were a maintenance officer told to not report a serious problem with an aircraft, I'd have been on the phone to the Region maintenance person or commander in about ten seconds after I hung up the phone with whoever "ordered" that crap. Because it's volunteer. Fire me. I don't care.

    Never cared about any of the little tyrants you'd run into occasionally when I was in the organization, and never put up with any of that crap. It's not like you're "trapped".

    Knocking volunteer heads is sometimes required in any volunteer org. I wouldn't care if I was knocking the Wing MX guy's head or the Wing Commander's head. Corporal "punishment" indeed. Sounds awfully dramatic. Punish them back if they're idiots. What are they going to do? Strip you of rank or a ribbon? LOL.

    You can't get so caught up in the military style cosplay that you actually believe the commanders have any real power over a volunteer, when they're wrong. They're not going to have you Court Martialled and sent to Leavenworth. Get over it. If some idiot volunteer commander tells you to cover up a safety problem on an aircraft, you say no. It's your name on the report.
     
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  38. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Why on earth would CAP have any interest in my life unless I'm directly participating in a CAP activity? Absolutely not.
     
  39. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yes. There are also counter-drug operations, aerospace education, the cadet program, etc.

    Not really. You can make flights for the purpose of maintaining proficiency, but you couldn't, for example, use a CAP plane to go on vacation or carry non-CAP passengers other than ones that CAP wanted carried.
     
  40. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Validity for what purpose? CAP intended the slide to represent the accident statistics of CAP operations. They didn't intend it to represent the accident statistics of CAP members when they are engaged in non-CAP operations.

    The thread title asks "Is CAP flying safer than the rest of GA," not "Are CAP Pilots safer than the rest of GA pilots."