The release of the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s 29th and 30th Joseph T. Nall Reports offers several enhancements and brings data into the 21st century, presenting users with near real-time analysis of general aviation accidents updated on a rolling 30-day cycle and access to analysis going back as far as 2008, including data trends well into 2020.
ASI’s executive summaries for a given period provide insight and comparisons of selected dates versus previous years. For the years 2017 and 2018, the executive summaries note a decrease in overall accident rates. Please review the summaries for a detailed analysis of trends and rates for non-commercial and commercial fixed-wing operations, non-commercial and commercial helicopter operations, and sport/experimental operations.
Please note that the NTSB takes approximately two years to issue its final findings for accidents, so as we move into next year, you will start seeing initial 2019 data rates.
General aviation (GA) is all flight activity of every kind except that done by the uniformed armed services and scheduled airlines. In addition to personal and recreational flying, it includes public-benefit missions such as law enforcement and fire suppression, flight instruction, freight hauling, passenger charters, crop-dusting, and other types of aerial work that range from news reporting to helicopter sling loads.
The Nall Report analyzes GA accidents in U.S. National Airspace and on flights departing from or returning to the U.S. or its territories or possessions. The report covers airplanes with maximum rated gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less and helicopters of all sizes. Collectively, these types of aircraft account for 99 percent of GA flight activity. Other categories are excluded, including gliders, weight-shift control aircraft, powered parachutes, gyrocopters, UAS, and lighter-than-air crafts of all types.
The total amount of accidents nationwide can vary substantially from year to year. For that reason, the most informative measure is usually not the number of accidents but the accident rate, commonly expressed as the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours. GA flight time is estimated using the FAA’s annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey, which breaks down aircraft activity by category and class and purpose of flight, among other characteristics.