NTSB issues 5 general aviation safety alerts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five general aviation safety alerts were issued by the National Transportation Board the week before Christmas, citing the government agency’s focus on reducing GA accidents.

“Knowing these accidents, which sometimes include entire families, can be prevented is why ‘general aviation safety’ is on our most wanted list of transportation safety improvements,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said.

These five alerts for general aviation are in addition to 25 others issued since 2004.

The five safety alerts are:

  • Check your restraints
  • Engine power loss due to carburetor icing
  • “Armed” for safety: Emergency Locator Transmitters
  • All secure, All clear (securing items in the aircraft cabin)
  • Proper use of fiber or nylon self-locking nuts

Each year the NTSB investigates about 1,500 GA accidents. About 475 pilots and passengers are killed and others are seriously injured in GA accidents every year in the United States.

While this number might seem high to many, it is extremely small in comparison when placed against the number transported in general aviation aircraft.

Several years ago, one aviation notable pointed out that each year considerably more people travel in GA aircraft than go into America’s hospitals, but more persons die from hospital accidents than in GA aircraft.


  1. JimHughes says

    If the number of GA deaths are compared to other activities, we are relatively safe with respect to what we do.
    GA had 475 deaths per 610k pilots, which is 77.7/100k.[ and we represent only 0.2% of the US population ]
    Compare this to auto deaths at 33k per 210 million licensed drivers, is 15.7/100k.
    US accidental deaths from all causes is 117k, or 39/100k….so GA is only 2x the overall rate.
    Annual deaths in the US from all causes is 2.44 million, or 812/100k…
    So from this, there is only a 9.5% chance of dying in a GA aircraft..

    We pilots continue to do the same few dumb things – loss of control, run out of fuel and VFR into IMC….. As Ron White and said..’ you can’t fix stupid’.

  2. unclelar says

    I think this statistic is very accurate and overwhelmingly so. A few years ago the AMA or Maybe “New England Journal of Medicine” said that over 100,000 people die every year from medical mistakes. Not sure about the sources but I’m pretty sure that is the right number. And way, way, more people die in hospitals from malpractice, infection, surgery complications, etc. than aircraft accidents. And these are people who should have walked out of the hospital. What about auto accidents — around 32,000 per year. If you want to be afraid of something then fear the highway and the hospital. Take a look at death statistics for the year and you will find that GA aircraft accidents don’t even register anywhere.

    If you step back from all of this you have to wonder why the government spends so many millions per year on the NTSB to prevent less than 500 deaths each year

    • Bill D says

      Auto accidents is not a good comparison since way more people drive than participate in GA flights. When this is taking into consideration auto accidents death are lower than GA accident death. Hospital accidental death is another story and it might well be higher that GA in proportion to people exposed.

      • John says

        It doesn’t matter- we are not talking about per capita deaths, but the total numbers for a given activity. Why do we have a major federal bureaucracy policing an activity (GA) with absurdly intrusive and expensive medical requirements (the 3rd class medical), where less than 500 deaths per year occur? And of those, only about 45-50 for outright medical impairment. There is nothing corresponding to the 3rd class medical for driving a motorcycle(4500 deaths per year), driving a car or RV (33,000 deaths per year), operating a boat (700 deaths per year), Skiing (50 deaths per year), bicycles (600 deaths per year), pedestrians (2000 deaths per year), etc., etc. Only the recreational GA pilot is subject to this oppressive bureaucratic treatment. As the comparative death rates show, the 3rd class medical for recreational pilots is grossely out of proportion to the numbers and risks it supposedly addresses.

  3. Bill D says

    Well Brett, he stated “hospital accidents”, by that I think the statistic only include death for people who would have live longer if they stayed at home instead of going to the hospital. Would be good to know for sure if this is the case.

  4. Brett S says

    I’m all for thinking of creative ways to cast GA in a positive light, but as someone who has been a Data Analyst, this is quite an abuse of statistics:

    “Several years ago, one aviation notable pointed out that each year considerably more people travel in GA aircraft than go into America’s hospitals, but more persons die from hospital accidents than in GA aircraft.”

    There’s just a wee bit of selection bias here since many (or most) of the people that go to hospitals are already in a life threatening position!

    • Greg C says

      Many of my friends consider me to be in a “life threatening position” whenever I go up in a GA aircraft. But, yes, selective statistics is always a problem and always will be. Why publish an article which trashes GA, there are enough naïve reporters out there doing that already.

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