When a commercial airplane crashes, it makes instant headline news. The cause of the crash is investigated carefully and each new discovery eagerly reported by the media. However, the reality is that commercial airline crashes are statistically rare. Traveling by plane, as long as it is by a recognized air carrier, is far safer than any other form of transportation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics show that 94% of all aviation disasters involve small plane crashes. Each crash is still a focus of investigation. Was it due to pilot error? Was it down to poor maintenance or was it a defect on the plane?

Yet another Tennessee small plane crash involving a Cessna 441Conquest II occurred on February 7th. The plane was occupied by the pilot and one other passenger. 78 Carl Spray and 58 year old Joseph Mackay were killed as the plane crashed in wooded, mountainous country on approach to Winchester Municipal Airport in Franklin County late in the evening.

Like all other such small plane crashes, the NTSB will send a team to investigate the crash and determine the cause. It’s unfortunate that because of the frequency of these crashes, the reasons for the crash may never be mentioned by the media. Yet for the manufacturer of the plane, the family and friends of the deceased, those who serviced the plane and others, this information will be a vital clue.