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While reading the tragic Accidents and incidents section of this Wikipedia page, I began to wonder how the Beechcraft 1900 ranks for safety.

The page describes 22 known severe accidents and incidents involving the Beechcraft 1900. According to the article, there were 695 of the aircraft built, with just 341 in service as of July 2015. That's less than half.

How does one compare these statistics to the norm? How does the Beechcraft 1900 rate when it comes to safety?

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    $\begingroup$ If you would care to read the description of those incidents listed on Wikipedia, you would realise that almost none of them were caused by failures of the aircraft. They were mostly caused by pilot error, weather conditions, etc. - something which is definately not unique to the B190 $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Aug 28 '16 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard, the trouble is that on Wikipedia, most of the accidents don't have a description. They do on ASN, though. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 28 '16 at 10:54
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    $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard "Pilot error" can be an error of the pilot, or can be indicative of a poorly designed cockpit. "Weather conditions" can be deciding to fly in inappropriate conditions, or failure of the aircraft to perform. $\endgroup$ – RockPaperLizard Aug 28 '16 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ Also note that they entered production 34 years ago, and the newest ones are 14 years old. A lot of the aircraft no longer in service are due to age, not accidents. $\endgroup$ – fooot Aug 28 '16 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ Any airplane operated in a single pilot IFR environment flown on night freight routes in all weather conditions by naively risk tolerant low time pilots working for slipshod fly-by-night operators will have a checkered safety record. The 1900, like the SA227, C208, Dash 8, and F27, is a really good plane. The pilots are the weak link, as always. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Aug 29 '16 at 2:52
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I would say that it is a reasonably safe aircraft, but, like most aircraft of that class, often operated in unsafe conditions.

The Wikipedia page does not have description for many of the listed accidents, but you can turn to the Aviation Safety Network which does.

There are 41 total hull losses listed there. From them:

  • Most common type of accident is controlled flight into terrain. That has nothing to do with the type and everything with operating to/from remote airports in mountainous terrain with limited choice of navigational aids around.
  • Then there are quite a few collisions, both midair and on the ground. That also has nothing to do with the type and much with operating at smaller fields often under VFR and without any radar.
  • Then there were several accidents where pilots mishandled engine failure. The aircraft is capable of flying on one engine and it had to be demonstrated during certification, but the pilots have to follow the correct procedure and may easily lose control if they don't. This kind of accident is more common in turboprops than in jets, but it does not seem to be more common in B1900 compared to other turboprops.
  • Only the three accidents that were contributed by improper installation of elevator or elevator trim control cables really have something to do with the specific type. They still have a lot to do with operating by smaller airlines and maintaining in smaller facilities with less experienced staff.

So no, the relatively long list of accident does not suggest any serious problem with the type.

Also, the accident rate and types are similar to the other types used in similar operating conditions like DHC-6, EMB-120, L410 or Do-228.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Jan. Very helpful analysis. I do wonder if cockpit design has anything to do with some of those accidents. $\endgroup$ – RockPaperLizard Aug 28 '16 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ @RockPaperLizard, I don't think. That kind of thing is analysed when investigating accidents involving loss of situational awareness, but I didn't notice any mention for B1900. Also the instruments and cockpit layout are very similar between similar aircraft and there is no advanced automation here. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 28 '16 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ " there were several accidents where pilots mishandled engine failure." -- This reminds me of the joke, "In the event an engine fails, the other engine will get you to the site of the crash." $\endgroup$ – Wayne Conrad Aug 28 '16 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ @WayneConrad You usually even get there before the NTSB does! $\endgroup$ – David Schwartz Aug 28 '16 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @WayneConrad, that joke is mainly about light piston twins which have looser requirements and many indeed don't have enough power to maintain altitude on single engine. But aircraft over 12 (or 9? I am not sure about the limit) have to demonstrate being able to climb out on single engine for certification. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 28 '16 at 21:42
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The Beech 1900 aircraft was a sound, well made commuter aircraft; now the list of accidents is misleading. Reviewing the list finds many occurring while the aircraft is being used for bush flying in extreme parts of the globe. This is not surprising considering a lot of bush flying involve operating out of remote airports in extreme temperature ranges, high winds, poor weather and with limited ATC and other flight resources for the crew, I'm not surprised the accident rates are fairly high for this aircraft; it does not appear to be attributed to a design fault.

Similar results are obtained from a study of accidents for the Bombardier Dash-8, the Fokker F27 Friendship, and the Cessna C208 Caravan, all of which are fine aircraft commonly used for commuter operations in remote sections of the planet.

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    $\begingroup$ The DHC-8/Dash and F27 are both larger and not used in as harsh conditions as the B1900. And yet even they (and the comparable ATR42/72) see a lot of accidents related to poor operating conditions. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 29 '16 at 5:01

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