GA’s #1 safety risk = loss of control, no SMS, RESEARCH?

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The annual Nall Report by AOPA ASI shows progress in GA Safety

#1 risk is Loss of Control

SMS would help identify the antecedents; GA says too burdensome

Research by FAA. NTSB. Flight Safety Foundation, ERAU and ASI???

Aviation, collectively,  has been making significant strides in reducing risks. While the numbers for General Aviation safety are not as impressive, the 31st  Nall Report demonstrated a decline in GA accidents[1].  This annual analysis identified Loss of Control as the largest reason for GA accidents.

nTSB MWL GA LOCThis phenomena has been a concern for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for decades and training courses have improved pilot skills.

Most accidents are not attributable to one factor; most commonly, there are precipitating events that trigger the pilot’s lesser command on the controls—IFR weather unexpectedly arriving, a distraction like another airplane flying in close proximity, instruments with unusual readings and a  myriad of other diversions.

Collection of data, in the commercial sector through the leading edge safety discipline—SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (SMS) –,has helped identify these precedents. While AOPA acknowledges that “..A careful and methodical approach to safety adopted by operators around the world is a large part of why 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial airlines,” the GA community asserts that the data collection, filing and analysis is too burdensome on its pilots.GA landsberg


Even NTSB  vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg is concerned that the current guidance and regulations surrounding SMS “ may not be the best fit for small operators, especially those involving a single pilot.”  The objection has been frequently expressed but the FAA, the Board, the Flight Safety Foundation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the AOPA Aviation Safety Institute or some combination thereof should investigate a surrogate method to identify the most common antecedents to this serious accident risk; so, pilots in the future can recognize the LOC risk in those circumstances and take precautions. AOPA might develop an abbreviated ASRS or similar data collecting system in the interim.



Nall Report: Decline in Accidents for Second Year in a Row

AOPA Air Safety Institute says the leading causes of fatal accidents remain un

By Meg Godlewski 

October 8, 2021





The latest edition of the Nall Report had some good news for general aviation enthusiasts.

The number of aviation accidents fell for the second year in a row, according to the latest issuance of the Nall Report.

The report, compiled biennially by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Institute (ASI), studies accident data looking for trends, with the idea that once these trends are identified they can be addressed to improveASI HANGAR safety.

“[One] area where we see improvement is the commercial fixed-wing total accident rate, which decreased for the second year in a row,” said Robert Geske, ASI’s manager of aviation safety analysis.

“The commercial fixed-wing fatal accident rate remains low and largely unchanged.”

The accident rate for non-commercial helicopter accidents has decreased slightly.

Some Things Remain The Same




Loss of control during the landing phase and VFR flight into instrument conditions continue to be the leading causes of fatal general aviation accidents. The report, released Friday, uses graphs to show accident details, breaking them down into phases of flight, level of pilot certification, class of aircraft, and weather.

The greatest number of accidents were reported in single-engine aircraft being flown by private pilots on personal flights. The accident causal factor of approximately 62 percent of those accidents were classified as “pilot related,” and most of the fatalities occurred during a loss of control during landing.



Of the fatal accidents where weather was a significant causal factor, VFR into IMC—followed by poor IFR technique—were cited.

The biennial report is named for Joseph T. Nall, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board who was killed in an airplane accident. In addition, the AOPA Air Safety Institute has an online compilation of the accidents on aNTSB JOSEPH T. NALL rolling 30-day cycle. The online accident information contains preliminary accident data from 2008 to the current year, as it normally takes about two years for the NTSB to issue a probable cause.



[1] Even the far more challenging Experimental Category Fatal Accident Total Drops Again, Finishes Under FAA Not-To-Exceed Total For Year



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2 Comments on "GA’s #1 safety risk = loss of control, no SMS, RESEARCH?"

  1. I guess Mr. Murdock has not read the GA JSC’s reports on Loss of Control (found here ). The FAA has been the co-chair of this research group since 2010.

  2. from Mr. jeff Edwards–

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