Author Background

Douglas Boyd Ph.D, a research scientist and commercial-certificated Citation type-rated pilot has published 90 peer-reviewed papers (18 aviation-related). He received the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) Joseph L Haley and Arnold Tuttle awards for two papers on accident injury severity in helicopter emergency medical services and in-flight general aviation pilot decision-making with regard to extreme convection. Dr. Boyd serves as on the AsMA safety and the General Aviation (GA) Joint Steering committees. He serves as a FAA Safety Team (FAAST) representative, has made 8 presentations in this program and penned 15 aviation magazine articles to disseminate research findings to GA pilots.

Mark T. Scharf, PhD, an Assistant Professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, has an aviation background including military aviation (USA F-16, F15, and T-37 trainer), major airline duties with type ratings in the B-727, B-737, B-757/767, and the B-777, as well as extensive general aviation experience including ownership of a Piper Twin Comanche and Piper Archer II. In addition to his Air Transport Pilot certificate, he is also a Certificated Flight Instructor, Flight Instructor (Instruments) and Multi-Engine Instructor. His academic background includes publications in the areas of technology acceptance, crew resource management, safety management systems, and pilot attitudes toward safety. His current research emphasis (2 presentations and 3 publications) is in the area of developing a taxonomy for commercial pilot operations safety.


Introduction: General aviation largely comprises fixed-wing piston-engine light aircraft (,12,500 lbs). Unfortunately, this civil aviation sector suffers a vastly inferior safety record when compared with air carriers (60- to 80-fold higher accident rate). Additionally, such mishaps pose a considerable financial burden to both the affected family and the United States: US$1.64–4.64 billion annually. We hypothesize that this safety disparity partly reflects more stringent operational regulations for air carriers. Herein, we determined whether compliance with six selected air carrier regulations could potentially reduce general aviation accidents in degraded visibility (IMC) the majority of which are fatal. Methods: Accidents (2005–2019) were identified from the National Transportation Safety Board Access database. Fleet data for rate calculations were per the general aviation survey and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Statistics used Poisson distributions. Results: Of 219 general aviation accidents in IMC, 43 (20%) could potentially have been averted had one, or more, of the selected air carrier regulations been complied with. The largest percentage (62%) of the 43 mishaps were due to pilots operating contrary to the air carrier regulation specifying takeoff or landing weather minimums. The second largest group related to more conservative weather minimums required for an inexperienced airline pilot-in-command, eschewed in 19% of preventable general aviation IMC mishaps. Conclusions: Alignment with the aforementioned air carrier operational rules could potentially blunt the IMC accident rate (by 20%) for general aviation. Practical Applications: Adherence to the aforementioned air carrier regulations should be advocated to general aviation pilots operating in IMC.