Single versus Dual Pilot Operations in a King Air

jergar999

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Does anyone know where I could find actual safety statistics that compare single and dual-pilot 135 on-demand ops? I can find general stats that don't break down further, but am looking specifically at operating the aircraft under 135 with experienced pilots (2500+TT with 500+ in the aircraft).
 

TheInsider

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Robert Breiling and Associates have those numbers. Google and you may find free statistics online. Dual-pilot ops are approx. 1.5 times safer than single-pilot ops.
 

fam62c

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Does anyone know where I could find actual safety statistics that compare single and dual-pilot 135 on-demand ops? I can find general stats that don't break down further, but am looking specifically at operating the aircraft under 135 with experienced pilots (2500+TT with 500+ in the aircraft).
I don't know about statistics but it seems to me that turbine aircraft are designed with all kinds of redundancy to improve safety and a lot of this gets undone by operating with one pilot. The pilot is the most important safety feature in the aircraft and if he/she is alone and becomes incapacitated or makes a mistake that could have been caught by another pilot the passengers are in trouble. Why would you want to have two of everything else but only one pilot? Cost is obviously the reason but it seems to me that if you can't afford to put two pilots in an expensive, all-weather turbine airplane you really can't aford to operate the airplane. I see no reason why my passengers should die because I have a coronary or other catastrophic problem.

Professional pilots who agree to fly these airplanes single pilot set a bad precedent and give operators the idea that it's cheaper to operate these planes than it really is. The poor passengers don't know any better and they trust the operators assuming that one pilot must be as safe as two or the FAA wouldn't allow it. I've always been surprised that the insurance companies allow this.

Sorry for the rant, I know I didn't help answer your question it's just that everytime I see an expensive turbine business aircraft flown by a single pilot at an FBO it strikes me as a potentially serious reduction in safety to save a few bucks. I've flown a lot of Part 121 through a lot of bad weather and problems/emergencies and I know that there were plenty of times when the operation would have been far less safe if there were only one of us in the cockpit. Single pilot passenger operations with high performance turbine aircraft in high workload airspace is simply an example of cutting corners to save money...period. I hope you are looking for these statistics to encourage an operator that two pilots are safer than one.
 

Going2Baja

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I ditto EVERYTHING said above by fam62c. I also have an extensive 121 background and it shocks me how charter operators will fly a 250kt+ a/c single pilot without even thinking there's a reduction in safety. Some pax request an "extra pilot" but this is usually filled by a low time pilot who is "building time." Not really sure how this works as most are not trained or qualified in the 350 as it is a type rated a/c. In some cases the right seaters or "bags" as they are often called, make the flight more dangerous as they are operating in a/c that are outside of their comfort range and do not fit into the crew concept.

It amazes me that there are not more accidents.

Baja.
 

RaginMav

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Some pax request an "extra pilot" but this is usually filled by a low time pilot who is "building time." Not really sure how this works as most are not trained or qualified in the 350 as it is a type rated a/c. Baja.
A 'low time' pilot, when properly trained (of course), is acceptable to complete the crew, IMHO. The 350 is an interesting case, since it requires a type for PICs. I see no problem with a trained and checked (but not typed) 'low time' SIC, with the right attitude and aptitude; and certainly no problem with a similarly trained and checked SIC for 200's, PC-12's etc.
 

Flyingdude

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I can tell you from experience that flying single pilot is not as safe as flying with two, I think that everyone knows that. However, many factors dictate the safety of single pilot ops. I have flown thousands of hours in both single, and dual pilot ops. I used to fly a King Air single pilot and can honestly say that it is one of the best planes that you could fly single pilot.

One thing to keep in mind is the type of experience that the pilot you plan to use has. I had been flying C-402's for a thousand hours, single pilot, w/no autopilot or really anything helpfull. Therefore, I had lots of single pilot IFR time and found the King Air pretty easy to fly. Everyone pilot at the company had the same background with extensive single pilot IFR background before being hired into the King Air. What i am saying is, having enough flight time is one thing, however, if you have never done that type of flying before, you would be in for a rude awakening.

My opinion?
Someone with a good single pilot background could do the job well if that is the direction that you decide to go. Now, with that being said, I would not operate it with only one pilot. I found myself in many situations when having another pilot (even if it was a low-time guy, such as pulling out charts to a diversion airport when hand flying in moderate turbulence and IMC) would have really helped out.

I feel that from my experience, two pilots would be a much better way to go, however, if you absolutely want to do it with one, it can be done.
 

SERPICO

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I ditto EVERYTHING said above by fam62c. I also have an extensive 121 background and it shocks me how charter operators will fly a 250kt+ a/c single pilot without even thinking there's a reduction in safety. Some pax request an "extra pilot" but this is usually filled by a low time pilot who is "building time." Not really sure how this works as most are not trained or qualified in the 350 as it is a type rated a/c. In some cases the right seaters or "bags" as they are often called, make the flight more dangerous as they are operating in a/c that are outside of their comfort range and do not fit into the crew concept.

It amazes me that there are not more accidents.

Baja.
Have you guy seen the experience req's for 121 carriers take a nose dive in the last few years? There are many low timers "building time" at 121 carriers.
The singe vs dual pilot arguement is a little more sofisticated than simply saying two is better than one.
With regards to a high time, single pilot with plenty of IMC experience:
-What is a second pilot in a king air or 402 going to do to improve things?
-Doe's the PIC have multi crew experience?
-How should he/she delegate, do they know how?
They probably would not do that in a busy situation with a low time FO who is not typed. The heart attack theory exists, I know, but pilots should rally against the FAA if they think that a first or second class medical fails to determine a pilots health.
It's like the single vs twin engine debate. More people probably die in twins!
"Bags" are an option for operators. People are not born with time so they gotta get it some way, I am sure most of us would do the same thing if we had to. The public would be more amazed if they knew what a regional FO made a year flying for a 121 carrier with 400TT.
This debate could go around in circles forever. I do not disagree with many points made here but I know that single pilot Ops when done by the right people are just as safe.
A second pair of eyes cannot hurt, but it ain't no gaurentee.
 
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TheInsider

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The 1.5x factor is for turboprop a/c's but even worse: the fatality rate for single-pilot certified Citations flown single-pilot is 7 times that of single-pilot certified Citations flown dual pilot.
 

fam62c

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A 'low time' pilot, when properly trained (of course), is acceptable to complete the crew, IMHO. The 350 is an interesting case, since it requires a type for PICs. I see no problem with a trained and checked (but not typed) 'low time' SIC, with the right attitude and aptitude; and certainly no problem with a similarly trained and checked SIC for 200's, PC-12's etc.
I agree with this. Even if there is a second pilot to just work the radios, read checklists and help reduce workload it helps. Towards the end of my 121 career (my company folded) we were getting a lot of very green FO's but at least there are training requirements under part 121 for ground and flight training and checking plus IOE so you could expect at least some help from the newbies and most of them learned very quickly. Again, you can say what you want but even the most competent, experienced and qualified pilot can have a medical problem or just have a "brain fart" that could be caught by another crewmember before it gets far enough to cause a problem. Trust me, if the FAA and the insurance companies would approve single pilot Part 121 the airlines would do it in a second if they thought it would save money. If the automation in the planes keeps progressing at the current rate I'm sure that at some point somebody will make the argument that the computers ARE the second pilot and one human is good enough.
 

skipro101

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All good points.

I would argue that a very low time pilot in the right seat of a king air reduces safety rather than increases it. I felt like I was having to fly for both of us and flight instruct at the same time. It would have been much safer if I was the only one up there.
 

SERPICO

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121 training is no doubt meant to be good. The public should expect this and I agree with that point. I would argue that flying in say the Northeast or any high traffic area with horrible winters is demanding for even high timers. All the 121 sim time time that a newbie gets cannot ultimatley prepare you. This can be very tough on capt's. Exposure is something that will just happen, and usually when you are not ready, but it has to happen at some stage. Low timers can be trained very well in many cases.
A request for a second pilot should of course happen without question.
I have not looked at the statistics but I think that the single pilot accidents in sophisticated aircraft should be be distinguished by Private/Comm/ATP. However on that note I do know some people who hold ATP's who really should not, but There is a big issue of denial that comes with many pilots, especially when they fly high-tech machines, a huge trap! I think this is very concerning when talking about pilots who can afford to buy and fly stuff which is way beyond their capabilities (no offence to owners who are sensible). FAA minimums allow it and it can be done. But of course we hold the final responsiblity for decision to go or not to go, no matter how qualified we are and that is the bottom line with pilots.
I am sure management would love single pilot 121, I doubt it would ever be passed by those who work in the big white place down in D.C. though.
This is certainly an interesting topic. Thanks for all the interesting views.
 
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ultrarunner

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The 1.5x factor is for turboprop a/c's but even worse: the fatality rate for single-pilot certified Citations flown single-pilot is 7 times that of single-pilot certified Citations flown dual pilot.
That may be true, but look at the common-sense factor (or lack thereof) of those that crashed citations single pilot. That stupid chick up in Maine last winter comes to mind!
 

Sim Sweat

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What you guys are missing here is the fact that most (not all) 135 outfits treat the word "safety" as an annoyance, rather than a guideline. Single-pilot ops in King Airs and like aircraft are common because of one reason: economics. I've done tons of SP ops for several different operators ... in my opinion it is generally safe with an experienced and capable driver, but there are certainly times when overload is sitting on your shoulder ... and that's not safe. The wiser clients will pay extra for a second pilot, but far too often they are duped into thinking that second white shirt is actually qualified in the aircraft when it's generally just a pulse. Meanwhile the company may not even be paying the second pilot, but they sure are billing the client.

And as for Citation accidents with single-pilot ops, I would hazard a guess that a lot of those are the typical owner/op, represented by the woman mentioned above. That was a suicide/murder at best.
 

ultrarunner

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And as for Citation accidents with single-pilot ops, I would hazard a guess that a lot of those are the typical owner/op, represented by the woman mentioned above. That was a suicide/murder at best.
That's the truth!
 

moonlight

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All good points.

I would argue that a very low time pilot in the right seat of a king air reduces safety rather than increases it. I felt like I was having to fly for both of us and flight instruct at the same time. It would have been much safer if I was the only one up there.
I agree. At a former job, we would train single pilot in 200's, but the insurance sonsa...company required that we have a 2 pilot crew. The running joke was that the SIC checkout was: 1) Gear handle up; 2) Gear handle down; 3) Clap your hands so I know you're not touching anything.

I have about 800 hours now of single pilot ops in King Airs, and I think the key to the whole situation is understanding and accepting the fact that there is an increased risk flying single pilot. My personal mins are higher, my decision making is more conservative, and if there is ever a question, be it wx, duty day, whatever, I have the option (and use it regularly) to hire a SIC. Also, when I'm back in Wichita being abused by the S&M specialists at FlightSafety, the training regimen is purposely designed to be as difficult as possible. They seem to enjoy it an inordinate amount...
 

Bringupthebird

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An operator who commits to a bonified two-pilot operation probably is willing to commit to other safety initiatives such as strict limitations on duty time, field length, wx restrictions, etc. and those who don't probably never will.

I think the lawsuit filed by the victim's families against an operator who offered a single-pilot option would be a slam-dunk. It could reasonably be implied that the single-pilot option was equally safe as the two-pilot option, which of course it isn't.
 

moonlight

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A lawsuit?!? Is flying a King Air SP illegal? The aircraft is certified single-pilot, is it not? Seems to me that a LOT of inane blanket statements are being made, including the post above. To play devil's advocate, a B200 a couple of years ago had a cracked windshield, and thanks to the incorrect response of the *2* pilot crew, an abnormal situation quickly become an all out emergency. CRM is CRM, whether there are two pilots or one pilot in the cockpit. I've seen and heard of plenty of situations where a good pilot did a dumb thing against his/her better judgment, because they were talked into, or out of what they knew to be right by the other guy.

To extrapolate a small flight dept's decision to utilize single pilot ops into rampant FAR violation and a careless disregard for safety is a leap in logic I can't and won't make.

What I will admit, is that by making the decision to fly single pilot requires that flight dept. to be much more conservative.

For example, my preflights take place the day before the flight, and last a couple of hours. We don't do the last minute, hurry up, "How soon can we leave?" types of flights. If the weather is down, we wait. If it looks like it's going to be a long day, we (the boss and I) figure out how to break it up over two. I have a good enough relationship with the owner that when I see a red flag, I not only feel comfortable speaking up, he would be pissed if I didn't. I know that I'm lucky in that respect, and I'm not so naive as to think that there aren't operators that brow beat pilots. I'm only trying to make the point that, while there is a certain amount of risk associated with flying single pilot, it can be managed.

If you want a risk free career...join the FAA.
 

Bringupthebird

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Single pilot 135 operations are legally allowed. My point is that should one be involved in a fatal accident, a lawyer would have a field day with the operator who felt he could hold out single pilot operations as being equally safe as two. A jury would likely find that operator negligent if he didn't offer the highest standard of safety first with a single pilot option only at the customer's request and with full disclosure of the risks associated with their decision. It could be argued that a reasonable person could not be expected to evaluate the risks of single pilot operation without them being disclosed.
 

SERPICO

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Single pilot 135 operations are legally allowed. My point is that should one be involved in a fatal accident, a lawyer would have a field day with the operator who felt he could hold out single pilot operations as being equally safe as two. A jury would likely find that operator negligent if he didn't offer the highest standard of safety first with a single pilot option only at the customer's request and with full disclosure of the risks associated with their decision. It could be argued that a reasonable person could not be expected to evaluate the risks of single pilot operation without them being disclosed.
How could this be proved? There are risks with both options. This angle has probably been covered by some greedy little lawyer.
Slam dunk, I doubt it.
 

kingairyahoo

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lol...cracks me up to see how the ex-121 guys are apalled at the very idea of flying single pilot (to the point of deeming the owner/operator as "cheap") when there are those of us who have done nothing BUT single pilot for our entire careers :rolleyes:
 
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