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The total accident rate for general aviation has risen slightly in the short term, but in the long term, the positive trend continues.
"The general direction is good," said AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "I think we'll continue to make progress as pilots get smarter. But it doesn't come without constant effort and vigilance."
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has released its 2004 Nall Report. It shows that in 2003 total accidents rose by 2.5 percent, but flight hours increased by 0.8 percent when compared to the previous year. Also, 79.4 percent of general aviation accidents were non-fatal and 75.9 percent were pilot-related. Takeoffs and landings still represent the most common phases of flight for mishaps to occur, accounting for more than 50 percent of all GA accidents.
The foundation's annual Nall Report is a detailed analysis of the previous year's GA accident information, focusing on fixed-wing aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds. It is named for former NTSB member and GA advocate Joseph T. Nall, who died as a passenger in a charter airplane crash in Venezuela in 1989.
As of February 2005, the NTSB had finalized 83.9 percent of the year 2003 reports. The remaining 16.1 percent contained preliminary data. Prior year comparisons suggest that this mix of preliminary and final data will not significantly change the conclusions presented in the report. As a supplement to the information contained in the Nall Report, the foundation now offers its accident database online.
But does looking at one year paint the whole picture? Hardly. To put things in better perspective, the foundation analyzed the accident trend over a decade in its General Aviation Accidents 10-Year Trend publication, available for download from the AOPA Online Safety Center. From 1994 to 2003, the accident rate per 100,000 flight hours declined 25.3 percent and the fatal accident rate per 100,000 hours declined 24.7 percent. The analysis focused on the most common types of pilot-related accidents such as takeoff, landing, fuel management, maneuvering flight, weather, descent and approach, and go-around. Landsberg used the data in his article " Safety Pilot: The Way to Fly," which ran in the "State of General Aviation" special section in the June AOPA Pilot.
You can download the Nall Report from AOPA Online or call 800/638-3101 to order a printed copy.
May 26, 2005