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4 plane crashes in 2 months: Aviation experts weigh in on possible reasons

Four pilots or people in the aviation industry give a common reason for the uptick in small plane crashes.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — In the past two weeks there have been at least three separate small plane crashes on the First Coast. 

Since the end of April, eight people have been killed in four small plane crashes. Three happened nine days apart.

You may be trying to make sense of it all. First Coast News brought questions to experts in the aviation industry. Nothing seems to point to any kind of link between each crash. They were all small planes, two had students on them.

Four pilots or people in the aviation industry give First Coast News this reason for the uptick in crashes - more people flying means the chance for more crashes.

National Transportation and Safety Bureau Media Relations Chief Christopher O'Neil adds this is especially so now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifting. 

Florida has the second-highest number of certified private aircraft pilots in the country, with only California ahead, according to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

"We want it to become a habit with our pilots to be able to look at the things that could endanger you or the airplane or having the weather affect your airplane and make that decision that you don't necessarily need to do this today," said Captain Wayne Ziskal, an aviation professor at Jacksonville University with more than 50 years of flight experience. 

On average, about 200 people are killed in general aviation accidents every year, the Federal Aviation Administration reports. The report states the most common type of accident is due to loss of control in flight.

Ziskal and another pilot at JU say pilots getting too comfortable with flying and not thinking about every risk every single time is a big problem. He says a big takeaway is this should be a wake-up call to pilots everywhere.

"See what we can learn from this and apply it then in our training programs," Ziskal said. "That's what we have to do. Every accident teaches us a lesson."

The investigations are still going on for each plane crash. O'Neil says it's too early to discuss common causes of plane crashes.

Ziskal believes the pilot shortage also plays into this. Some researchers estimate the global civil aviation industry will be nearly 30,000 pilots short by the end of this year.

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