Why Are Small Planes More Vulnerable than Large Planes?

by Carson
Small Plane Crash

Flying is statistically the safest way to travel. However, you may wonder, ‘It’s better to go on a private jet instead of a commercial jet, right?’ You may enjoy more luxury, but there are more risks. So, we’ll explain why large planes are safer than small planes in this article.

Yes. There is a Link

Although safety and size are completely different things, there is still a link that proves small planes to be more vulnerable than large planes.

Firstly, think of strong crosswinds affecting different types of planes. An aircraft as small as the Cessna 172 can easily spiral out of control if it’s exposed to very strong winds. Although a commercial airliner can still be unstable, the damage will be smaller.

Simply put, small planes are lighter, have less powerful engines, and are more affected by bad weather.

Loss of Engines Can Be Troublesome

What happens if an airliner loses an engine? It diverts with no trouble at all because they have multiple engines!

However, many private airframes only have one engine due to the low amount of thrust necessary to fly it. What’s worse, they usually use piston engines, which are much less reliable than jets.

Therefore, if just a single engine fails in this type of aircraft, the plane will essentially turn into a glider and only have one chance to land safely on an airport.

In fact, smaller planes generally have fewer backups and safety features, so the probabilities of displaying incorrect data and having unusual conditions skyrocket on these aircrafts.

Pilot Errors Are More Frequent

One of the most common causes of plane crashes is pilot error. Unfortunately, according to USA Today, pilots of private planes only have as little as 60-75 flight hours of training on average. That little training significantly raises the chances of a pilot getting wrong.

Other than an increased rate of mistakes, pilot errors of small planes are more perilous. It requires much less energy to spiral a light airplane out of control than to do so on an airliner. Remember that small planes are lighter, which is one reason why they are much more dangerous than larger planes.

Attitude Matters, too!

Moreover, there is still one factor that increases the rate of pilot error, and it’s the attitude. A lot of flights by small planes are only recreational flying and only involves one or two people. Meanwhile, a commercial airliner pilot is responsible for the lives of hundreds of people and the airline’s reputation.

Although this is an unavoidable parameter, the risk can be resolved with more training, and possibly, some experience on commercial planes.


So, we explained why are small planes more vulnerable than large planes on this webpage. We hope you can look at the issue even more in the references because the article is not enough.

References and Credits

  1.  (n.d.). Are Small Planes More Dangerous Than Big Planes? – HighSkyFlying. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.highskyflying.com/are-small-planes-more-dangerous-than-big-planes/
  2. Stephanie Pappas. (2017, November 7). Why Private Planes Are Nearly As Deadly As Cars | Live Science. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.livescience.com/49701-private-planes-safety.html
  3. USA TODAY. (2020, February 6). Why small planes are more likely to crash than commercial airlines | Just The FAQs – YouTube. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2EVq2E3TTo

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