GA safety performance gets better
AOPA ASI Nall report has the numbers
GA community poses challemges
General aviation’s energetic efforts to reduce fatal aircraft accidents continued to produce encouraging results in 2015, and the overall accident rate per 100,000 flight hours also declined even as total flight hours increased, according to the Twenty-seventh Joseph T. Nall Report, released by the AOPA Air Safety Institute.
General aviation faces some of the most difficult challenges in reducing risks; consequently, the organization which represents this segment of flight, AOPA, established the Aviation Safety Institute. The Institute has programs to define how to reduce GA’s risks and to educate pilots about these better techniques. ASI, in support of its mission, publishes the Joseph T. Nall Report and this year produced the 27th Edition—an exhaustive 43 page analysis of data collated by the following major categories
- fixed wing—noncommercial
- fixed wing—commercial
- helicopter- noncommercial
- helicopter- commercial
- experimental and light sport aircraft
Within those classes, the numbers are further classified by
- Pilot-Related Accidents Fuel Management Accident Trends
- Weather Accident Trends
- Takeoff and Climb Accidents Trends
- Maneuvering Accidents
- Accidents Landing Accidents
- Other Pilot-Related and Unusual Accidents
- Mechanical Accidents General Trends
After analyzing all of these numbers and looking at what the past forecasts about the future, ASI Executive Director Richard McSpadden made the following comments:
To put these numbers in context, we must look back even farther: In 1950, the total accident rate was 46.68 per 100,000 flight hours; the fatal accident rate was 5.17 per 100,000 hours flown. Fast forward to today: The accident and fatal accident rates have plunged to an estimated 5.32 and 0.84 per 100,000 hours, respectively. Clearly, we’ve come a long way in aviation safety.
The 27th Nall Report highlights another positive record setting year with an overall reduction of the accident rate and number of accidents. While commercial activity showed a rise in accidents, the overall impact was minimal. It appears the accident rise in commercial operations is likely a result of increased flight activity and cyclical in nature. Non-commercial operations along with experimental and light sport aircraft accidents continued their downward trends. A quick look at major findings:
- Overall GA accident rate is declining
- Overall GA fatal accident rate is declining
- Non-Commercial operations (helicopter and fixed-wing) accident rates are declining
- Commercial operations accident rates increased slightly, likely a continuation of cyclical variation
- GA flight activity is increasing
- Experimental and light sport aircraft accidents decreased
- Pilot-related accidents account for most of all operations and continue to be the leading cause of GA accidents
The Report is replete with similar insights. AOPA ASI should be recognized for these meaningful gains. Much of the recent reductions in risks achieved by aviation can be attributed to greater collection of data, increased computer capacity to use that information to identify risks, collaboration and cooperation and perhaps most importantly the growth of a safety culture within aviation organizations, particularly airlines.
GA cannot replicate the capture of the massive indicia of risks trends which air carriers’ large staffs can do. The AOPA pilots are physically dispersed; so, the sharing of data, collaboration and collective culture are virtually impossible.
This progress is good, but contentment with these gains is not within the AOPA ASI mission. The 27th Nall Report is a positive milestone and it is reasonable to assume that given the leadership from Frederick, the 28th will be even better.
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