USA Today has offered its readers sensationalistic and incomplete journalism with its latest story targeting general aviation, according to AOPA. The Oct. 28 article purports to examine the potential for post-crash aircraft fires.
In the article, the author blames manufacturers for being reluctant to change and improve upon designs. This is a gross distortion. In fact, the manufacturers, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and others have been active supporters of safety improvements.
One of the real issues has been the need for regulatory change to revise aircraft certification rules and simultaneously improve safety while reducing costs. This reform is designed to streamline the process for incorporating innovative and affordable technologies that will enhance safety. These changes are known as the Federal Aviation Regulation Part 23 reform. At the urging of AOPA and GAMA, Congress in 2013 passed—and President Barack Obama signed—this reform legislation.
USA Today has largely excluded mention of this legislation in its articles on general aviation, presenting an incomplete picture of the safety initiatives that are underway.
Readers will also find that USA Today has ignored information that shows a reduction in general aviation fatalities. For example, in 2013, general aviation realized its lowest number of fatalities in decades. In fact, federal records show that GA fatalities have declined by 75 percent since 1973. AOPA submits that this improvement is the result of persistent pilot education, improved flying techniques, and safety enhancements in aircraft, such as improved restraints.
Pilot education and aviation safety were primary goals when AOPA was founded 75 years ago, and that mission has not changed. Today AOPA offers more than 300 safety and aviation skills courses, and the association’s work to protect the freedom to fly, and to make flying safer, continues.