Flying Single Engine
to the Bahamas
Is flying a single engine airplane over water to the Bahamas safe? This is a question many have asked; and the answer is “it depends”.
The fact is, thousands of pilots fly single engine airplanes to the Bahamas every year without incident; however, flying over water is not without risk, but neither is flying over a heavily wooded forest, dense urban areas, or over mountainous terrain. The good news is that the fatal accident rate has declined to 0.84 per 100,000 hours. The FAA estimated flight time in 2015 of about 23.98 million flight hours, a 3.6% increase over 2014 (based on General Aviation News).
The real answer to “is it safe to fly single engine plane to the Bahamas?” comes down to risk management, and being prepared. With only a little flight planning, your time over water outside of gliding distance to land can be as little as 30 minutes; even during that 30 minutes there are frequently boats of all sizes that would be in gliding range. Still, this is no excuse for not being prepared.
Some pilots worry that should they be forced to land in the water they and their passengers will not be able to exit the airplane; a little research finds that in water landings 90% of the time people were able to exit the aircraft successfully. For us, this an acceptable risk, however the FAA also states that all you need to bring is a life vest for everyone on board, which we do not feel is adequate and why we strive to provide you with the highest level of preparedness and proper survival equipment.
Take a look at image below. This is a photo of people in the water with ONLY life vest from 500ft.
(photo is from http://www.equipped.org/pp/pic303.htm)
While most of us will never be in this situation, "luck favors the well prepared". At a minimum, you will need a life vest, a raft, and a Personal Locator Beacon. Being in a raft makes it lot easier for passing airplanes or boats to see you, and a raft can help keep you and your passengers safely out of the water. A raft combined with a SOS Personal Locator Beacon (that can do two-way satellite messaging) can dramatically reduce your time in the water; it also allows you to contact us for other issues that might come up - no cellular service or Wi-Fi needed.
The Bahama Pilots Association can help you easily be prepared! We can have all the things you need ready and waiting for you. Let us give you and your passengers peace of mind.
Contact us today for more information and to find out how we can help you to prepare for your trip!