The AOPA Air Safety Foundation said preliminary statistics released by the National Transportation Safety Board show that the trend toward improved general aviation safety continues through the first half of 2000.
"The number of GA accidents has decreased eight percent compared to the same period last year," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF executive director, "and the number of fatal accidents has declined almost 10 percent."
There were 140 fatal accidents through the end of June compared to 155 fatal accidents during the first half of 1999. Moreover, there have been 71 fewer accidents of all types during the period, 805 this year versus 876 last year.
The subcategories of personal, business, and instructional accidents have also improved over the first half of 1999. Personal accidents are down almost nine percent, and business accidents are down almost 20 percent. Instructional accidents are down over four percent, 129 so far this year compared to 135 last year.
However, the number of fatal instructional accidents more than doubled, from 9 to 19. "The number of student pilots continues to grow, but this preliminary accident data doesn't offer enough detail to determine if there is anything specific to account for the increased number of fatal flight training accidents," said Landsberg.
There have been nine midair collisions so far this year (compared to eight last year), but the number of fatal midair collisions has increased from two to six.
"Midair collisions are still extraordinarily rare, less than 1 percent of all accidents," said Landsberg. "However, there were 15 midairs in 1997 and 1998, but 18 in 1999. That slight increase in numbers is troublesome."
The Air Safety Foundation is developing a new safety seminar on midair collision avoidance, which is scheduled to debut in October.
Chartered in 1950 by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Air Safety Foundation is the largest private, nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to general aviation safety research, continuing pilot education, and training.
The Air Safety Foundation's free continuing pilot education seminars alone reached more than 33,000 pilots nationwide in 1999. Additionally, ASF sent more than 30,000 safety videos to new private and instrument-rated pilots. The foundation is funded largely by tax-deductible contributions from individual pilots.
July 27, 2000