Statistics released last weekend confirmed what observers already knew from abundant anecdotal evidence about Russian military aviation: Russian Air Force pilots get so little flying time that they are far more accident-prone than their Western counterparts. Over the past six years this arm of the Russian military has had thirty fatal crashes claiming 276 lives. This was said to be equal to one accident for every 25,000-30,000 flight hours. By contrast, the U.S. Air Force accident rate for 1997 was 1.26 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The overall U.S. military accident rate over the last several years–which includes both the Navy and the Marine Corps–has held steady at 1.5 per 100,000 flight hours. The Russian rate is more than double: 3.3-4 accidents per 100,000 flight hours (Russian media, September 19).
The ultimate reason for this high rate can be seen by extrapolating total flight hours from the Russian accident figures. Over the past six years the Russian Air Force flew, on average, just 180,000 hours each year. In contrast, the U.S. Air Force last fiscal year flew more than 2,140,000 hours, with each active pilot averaging some 240 flight hours. A Russian pilot is lucky if he can log one-third of that amount.
CONDOMINIUM PROPOSED FOR DISPUTED TERRITORY.