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I was wondering if there are actually safer hours to fly?

By safe I both refer to major, but also minor accidents like land vehicles hitting a wing, etc.

I can imagine that there are several reasons for the time of day to influence the incident rate on airplanes:

  • In the morning: engines are cold, the pilots need to do a full check to the airplane and might be easier to miss details.
  • At night: crew might be tired, less visibility in the runways, etc.
  • During busy hours: Due to the amount of traffic either on land or flying.

Are there safer hours to fly?

  • Only partially answering your question: since the probability of you yourself getting medical problems on the flight (e.g., thrombosis) is much higher than for the plane having an accident, for the question "Are there safer hours to fly", it would make sense to include the question which hours are safer from a medical point of view. – DCTLib May 5 '17 at 13:06
  • Stay off regional airlines as they've been known to abuse their pilots? Only fly in sunny weather? are both probably more important then time-of-day. – mkennedy May 5 '17 at 15:51
  • There have been some accidents where crew fatigue due to circadian desynchronosis played a part, but long haul flights are very safe in general. – Spehro Pefhany May 5 '17 at 16:14
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    There is some evidence that the last flight in the day/crew shift is slightly more dangerous than other flights as crews desire to get home/done starts to out weight their desire to be slow or careful. That being said, air travel is so statistically so safe that one probably wouldn't worry about the time of day of travel. – Jacob Horbulyk May 5 '17 at 19:43
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If you're asking about general commercial air travel, no, there is no meaningful, if any, difference in safety relative to time of day.

You can easily argue that daytime is easier on the pilots but considering that aircraft movements are so tightly controlled and the autopilot, radar, TCAS, and other systems are essentially unaware, it's not a huge difference.

However, since there are generally fewer aircraft operating at night, there's less to go wrong.

Busy times can be more dangerous for the ground crew but that's no different that any other industrial setting.

Finally, aircraft don't always start their 'day' in the morning so the many checks happen at all hours. Same for crew.

  • Downvote? Really? Very very unhelpful. If there's something wrong with the answer, please say so and I'll be happy to update. Otherwise, it's just bad for other readers. – Johns-305 May 5 '17 at 14:40
  • Didn't downvote, but you show no evidence of your claim. Statistics showing the accident rates at different times of day would make a good answer. – ugoren May 5 '17 at 19:25
  • The general impression I get from reading the Aviation Herald is that incidents are more common after dark, but a) the effect is minor compared to the effect of weather, and b) both effects are minor compared to non-time-based effects such as the quality of maintenance. – Mark May 6 '17 at 2:09

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