An AOPA Air Safety Foundation seminar on collision avoidance, introduced late last year, is already addressing a slight increase in the number of midair collisions.
Statistics released February 20 by the NTSB show a 5.9-percent increase in the number of collisions in 2000 (from 17 to 18) and an increase from 8 to 10 in the number of fatal midair accidents.
That makes ASF's new "Collision Avoidance" seminar more than timely. The live seminar is expected to reach nearly 14,000 pilots by August, while a self-contained "Seminar-in-a-Box" kit on the subject should reach an additional 1,000 pilots by the end of the year.
"Historically, midair collisions are infrequent," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "Even for 2000, the total number of accidents in this category is small, so the percentage increase may seem more frightening than it truly is. Nonetheless, all pilots need to know what they can do to minimize their chances of a midair collision."
The interactive ASF "Collision Avoidance" seminar uses videotape segments and interactive discussions that highlight ways to reduce midair collision risks, including:
Storm Field, a well-known New York City TV broadcaster and pilot, hosts the "Collision Avoidance" videotape. In his introduction, he notes that even if all quarter-million airplanes in the United States were aloft at the same time at the same altitude over the state of Texas, each would have more than a square mile of airspace all its own.
"So it's not surprising that aerial collisions are rare," he says, "but when they do occur, they're usually disastrous and always bad for aviation. That's why every pilot needs to know and practice the art of collision avoidance."
Field tells why more than a third of midair collisions involve an airplane with a flight instructor on board and reveals other surprising facts about midair collisions that can help pilots decrease the chance of their own involvement.
The seminar emphasizes using air traffic control resources to help a pilot with collision avoidance, including use of flight following and other radar services. (It was the 1956 midair between a DC-7 and a Lockheed Constellation over the Grand Canyon that led to development of the modern ATC system.)
The program was funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Air Transport Association, and Ryan International, a leading producer of collision avoidance devices.
A full schedule for "Collision Avoidance" seminars is available on the ASF Web site or by calling 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672). ASF seminars are open to all pilots without charge.
The independent, nonprofit Air Safety Foundation was founded in 1950 to promote general aviation safety through research and education. Since its establishment, the total GA accident rate has fallen from 46.6 per 100,000 flight hours to just 7.05 per 100,000 flight hours. ASF safety efforts are funded primarily by contributions from individual pilots and companies interested in promoting general aviation safety.