Although safety of U.S. commercial air travel has improved significantly in recent years, the overall safety of general aviation hasn’t improved appreciably in several decades. A big reason for that disparity may be attributable to the limited availability of digital flight data to perform safety analysis.
Commercial aviation safety has improved in part because of the collection and analysis of data from commercial airlines, which are used to identify and address potential safety issues. However, such an archive does not yet exist for GA flights. The FAA is looking to change that.
“Most GA aircraft are not equipped to record digital flight data,” says MITRE group leader Matt Pollack. “And it would be prohibitively expensive for general aircraft owners to purchase that equipment. Without some way to collect data, it’s challenging for the GA community and FAA to identify and address safety issues that affect general aviation.”