General aviation accident reductions in 2013 could be "a positive sign" about how pilots are approaching training, education, and proficiency, said the new leader of the AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute.
The National Transportation Safety Board on Sept. 15 released preliminary statistics showing an overall decline in aviation accidents for 2013, and noting a decrease in general aviation accidents "in all measures."
"The Air Safety Institute is encouraged by this year’s reduction in general aviation accidents thus far,” said Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President George Perry. "Although it is likely too soon to definitely state that GA accidents are trending downward over the long term, the year’s numbers are an improvement over the previous year, and a positive sign.
"It is our hope that GA pilots view this reduction of accidents as an encouraging sign that serves to reinforce the need for continuous education, training, and proficiency."
The NTSB reported that civil aviation accidents declined from 1,539 in 2012 to 1,297 in 2013, according to preliminary data. The decreased general aviation accidents headlined the NTSB’s news release on the accident statistics:
"With regard to general aviation accidents, there has been a decrease in all measures," the NTSB said. "The total number of general aviation accidents decreased by 249 in 2013, bringing the number to 1,222. The number of fatal accidents (221), fatalities (387) and the accident rate per 100,000 flight hours (5.85) also declined from the previous year." In 2012, the accident rate per 100,000 flight hours was 7.04.
The NTSB said the commercial air transport sector experienced its first fatal accident in three years on Aug. 14, 2013, when UPS Airlines Flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600, crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama. The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that occurred in San Francisco, California, was not reported in NTSB statistics because it involved a foreign carrier operating under Part 129 operations, the NTSB said.
Accidents involving scheduled Part 135 commuter operations increased from four in 2012 to eight in 2013, said the NTSB. Increases were registered in on-demand Part 135 operations including “charter, air taxi, air tour, and air medical flights.” See the complete set of preliminary statistics here.
As AOPA’s safety arm, the Air Safety Institute produces a wide variety of online educational programs, award-winning interactive courses, webinars, accident case studies, and safety videos that are free to all general aviation pilots. It presents more than 180 live seminars every year, and publishes a variety of safety publications and newsletters, reaching the pilot community nearly two million times each year.
"The journey toward safety is an all-hands effort, and is needed in order to help the entire GA community continue making positive strides toward improving safety and reducing GA accidents,” Perry said.