Jet Fighter Accident/Attrition Rates in Peacetime

An Application of Reliability Growth Modelling

by Milton Kamins


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Two statistical examinations of accident and attrition data for all jet fighters that had seen substantial Air Force usage by 1963: the first to distinguish gross factors affecting safety (landing speed, single vs. twin engines, similarity to a previous model, and age): the second to compare different methods for analysis and prediction. The first examination showed that (1) aircraft reliability affecting safety improves with years of service as long as routine, comprehensive maintenance and product improvement programs are pursued; (2) during the last 20 years, materiel failures have become more important in jet fighter accidents; (3) two engines may be no more beneficial to safety than a heavy carry-over of technical experience from one model to the next made by the same company; and (4) landing speed is less important than either. The second examination confirmed these conclusions and also indicated that the hyperbolic model of reliability growth developed in RM-5346 is preferable to a learning-curve model in three respects: it can represent trends more accurately, is easier to use, and permits statistically and practically meaningful confidence limits to be calculated for past experience or future projections of accident or attrition rates.

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