The NTSB has made official what the AOPA Air Safety Foundation first told you last month; 2004 was general aviation's safest year yet. And the GA accident record continues to improve.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported Tuesday afternoon that general aviation accidents decreased from 1,741 in 2003 to 1,614 in 2004. There were 312 fatal general aviation accidents, down from 352 the year before. The accident rate decreased from 6.77 per 100,000 flight hours in 2003 to 6.22 in 2004. The fatal accident rate decreased from 1.37 to 1.20.
"According to the Air Safety Foundation's database and analysis, that's the lowest number of accidents and the lowest accident rate since 1938," said Bruce Landsberg, Air Safety Foundation executive director. "It's also the lowest number of fatal accidents, the second-lowest fatal accident rate - ever.
"Clearly, we're doing something right, but when it comes to safety, we can always do it better," Landsberg said.
And one of the latest tools to help pilots fly more safely is the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new Online Safety Center, a comprehensive source for free interactive training courses, fun quizzes, and downloadable publications on topics like airspace, weather, procedures, and more.
Although 1999 edged out 2004 as the year with the lowest fatal accident rate, the difference is hardly measurable.
"Only four one-hundredths difference per 100,000 hours," said Landsberg, "and that implies a degree of precision that's far greater than what the system can actually measure."
But the numbers of accidents are precise. And consider the improvement. In 1974, there were 4,425 GA accidents, in 2004 only 1,614. That's better than a 60 percent improvement in 30 years.
The NTSB numbers are based largely on preliminary information. The Air Safety Foundation annually issues the Nall Report, a much more comprehensive look at GA safety, which uses mostly final accident reports for the previous year to analyze leading causes and factors, such as the phase of flight (takeoff, en route, maneuvering, landing) involved in accidents, pilot experience, weather, and numerous other considerations. The 2004 Nall Report, on GA safety in 2003, will be available later this spring.
March 30, 2005