Between 1990 and 2010, General Aviation fatalities have gone from 1.56 per 100,000 hours of flight time to 1.33. While the 20 year perspective shows improvement, the intervening years had that index go as low as 1.20. Whatever the slope is, there is clear room for improvement. This sector has been cited by the NTSB as an area needing improvement (its Most Wanted List) and the Board recently issued four Safety Alerts directed to GA flying.
The FAA is generally taking a more proactive approach to its Safety Mission. Enforcement Announcements appear to be less important than a number of initiatives designed to prevent accidents. This includes its recent GA Safety Summit chaired by Deputy Administrator Whitaker, who recently earned his PPL. The point of this public meeting was to highlight actions which GA pilots should adopt to improve the safety of their flying. The subjects of the meeting were influenced by the hard work of the GA Joint Steering Committee which is replicating the data-driven efforts of the air carrier equivalent CAST.
Here are the key topics which the GA community (the agenda included a number of actions which the FAA is doing to reduce risk and improve GA aircraft design) discussed at the June 30 meeting:
- Loss of Control proficiency
- Better attention to Weather (Fly Safe)
- Windshear or Thunderstorm
- Controlled Flight Into Terrain
- System Component Failure – Powerplant
- System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
- Low Altitude Operations
- Fuel Related
- Midair Collision
These points of emphasis will be further distributed by aviation trade associations (AOPA, GAMA, etc.) and trade press. All of these are well known to all pilots, but repetition and redundancy are good tenets of aviation safety. Expanding this information to the GA sector may help lower that 1.33 number, soon.
Deputy Administrator Whitaker, the Flight Standards GA organization and private industry are all to be commended for this positive, informative and important initiative.
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