OSHKOSH, Wis. — Heightened safety efforts by the aviation community and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) are showing positive results, as fiscal year 2013 figures from the FAA indicate that fatal accidents in amateur-built aircraft in the U.S. declined by 30% when compared to fiscal year 2012.
The totals, which include accidents during the 2013 federal fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013, showed that fatal accidents in amateur-built aircraft declined from 50 in FY2012 to 35 over the past 12 months.
In addition, fatal accidents in all experimental category aircraft — which includes those in experimental/exhibition and light-sport aircraft subcategories — dropped from 73 to 55, a 25% decline.
These figures meet the FAA’s “not-to-exceed” annual accident totals that are part of the agency’s 10-year accident reduction initiative, EAA officials note.
“This is very good news and leaves us cautiously optimistic that many of EAA’s safety initiatives are beginning to take hold,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “The goal is to promote the best training possible that will help pilots be better prepared and educated, and avoid some of the most common accident causes.”
Building on EAA’s Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor programs, EAA’s initiatives over the past year included a focus on transition and recurrent training in amateur-built aircraft, as well as additional published information from EAA contributors who have strong flight-testing backgrounds.
Particular emphasis was on initial flight testing of amateur-built aircraft and transition training.
While the accident totals are available at this time, the FAA will take up to two years to compile and analyze data that will determine the accident rate – the comparison of total accidents to the number of hours flown, EAA officials noted. However, the 2013 accident totals for the entire general aviation community remained approximately the same as in 2012, which gives an indication that total hours flown over the past 12 months have not changed greatly.
“Everyone must realize that we are already dealing with very small numbers here, so even a handful of accidents can cause significant percentage fluctuations in the annual total,” Elliott said. “The actual number of fatal amateur-built aircraft accidents, for example, is already below the yearly U.S. fatal incident total for those who are scuba diving, horseback riding, or even struck by lightning. Regardless, we will continue to find and promote more ways to enhance aviation safety.”