AOPA today reiterated that small general aviation aircraft are not a significant threat to buildings or people on the ground. Media attention is once again focused on GA following the release of the ATC tapes of the communications with Charles Bishop, the teenager who crashed into a Tampa office building in January.
"The GA industry is working proactively to ensure that unauthorized people cannot get access to aircraft," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. In December, AOPA and other organizations offered a 12-point security plan to the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration. That proposal became the basis of an FAA security memo to flight schools and businesses that rent aircraft. Most businesses have voluntarily increased access control to aircraft. And Congress has endorsed AOPA's driver's license proposal to better identify legitimate pilots.
AOPA analysis of NTSB accident data shows that suicide by aircraft is very rare. In the past 20 years, there have been 19 fatal accidents in which a suicidal pilot was the apparent cause of the accident. (This count does not include the September 11 attacks, the Egypt Air accident, or the Charles Bishop incident.)
Aircraft accidents involving buildings are also rare. In the 10 years since 1992, there have been only 49 accidents nationwide in which an aircraft struck a building (again not including the September 11 or Tampa crashes), with one fatality on the ground.