Written by Charlie Van Horn

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Topics: accident, Maryland

Monday, 12 July 2004

image for Small Planes Kill Fewer, Study Finds
Could kill more if they only tried

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Small planes are nearly three hundred times as likely to kill less people per accident than larger jet aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Authority today announced the results of a nearly six hour research panel thrown together to give all the interns, as one person put it, "something to do".

"The work for this project was really non-existent" said Jason Sheffield, intern at the FAA's Department of Airline Safety. "I got some coffee and 'Googled' some records on plane deaths and stuff. Really simple. A third grader could have done this."

Spiro Agnew middle schooler Beatrice Needy, whose science fair experiment "Old People Die Before Babies Usually Do" was cited by the Food and Drug Administration as the basis for their report on the state of health care in the United States, thought the FAA study was pretty sound.

"They typed it up and it wasn't double spaced like mine was" she said, "but they didn't put a cool cover on it like I did. Do you like my glitter? I used glue to make it stick"

Smaller planes carry anywhere from one to fifteen persons while larger aircraft, according to Sheffield, "hold lots"

"Sure we spent some money on this program, but look at the instant results we got. I mean, c'mon, for nearly thirty grand we generated some sound, solid, scientific data." said FAA spokesperson Keni Getonaugh. "We feel the solutions outlined in this paper will show some simple ways to reduce this trend of smaller planes killing fewer people"

Among the ideas suggested by the report include encouraging small plane owners to carry more persons than the aircraft is designed to hold.

"I'm proud of that idea" noted Sheffield, "that and the one about making jets only have four passengers."

The information gathered seems to suggest that if every small plane in the United States were to carry at least seventy to eighty people, the number of people who were killed by drunk drivers would go down, if only because of the fact they died in plane crashes.

The battered airline industry, already in turmoil, scoffed at the findings, calling them "about as accurate as the way we say our planes are 'on time' or have 'generous legroom'"

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