In 2017, pilots of experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft were involved in fatal accidents at a lower rate than has ever been recorded, according to the 2017 General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey).
The survey reports there were 2.63 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours last year. This breaks the record set the previous year, when E-AB pilots were involved in 3.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours, according to officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
While the number of fatal accidents involving E-AB aircraft dropped from 32 in 2016 to 26 in 2017, the estimated number of hours flown by homebuilts increased from about 890,000 to approximately 950,000.
Light-sport aircraft flight time also hit record numbers in 2017, with special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) breaking 200,000 flight hours for the first time on record.
Add in experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) and LSA of all types recorded approximately 348,000 hours. The GA Survey has recorded a 19 percent growth in light-sport aircraft activity over the past decade.
“These statistics show that growth and safety are not mutually exclusive in our community,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “We are immensely proud of the progress we have made, but we’re not done yet and never will be. We cannot afford to be complacent. EAA will continue to be highly engaged in initiatives and programs to enhance aviation safety.”
In addition to the good news on the 2017 accident rate, the preliminary count shows that experimental accidents in fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, came in below the FAA not-to-exceed goal for fatal accidents. This would be the fourth year in a row that the experimental community outperformed this safety benchmark, EAA officials point out.