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FAA Administrator Huerta Calls For More Action On General Aviation Safety

May 14 - As the busy summer flying season approaches, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta today met with leaders from the general aviation community to agree on actions to enhance safety and reduce accidents.

The United States has the largest and most diverse general aviation (GA) community in the world with more than 300,000 aircraft including amateur-built aircraft, rotorcraft, balloons, and highly sophisticated turbojets.

Reducing GA fatalities is a top priority of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the FAA’s goal is to reduce the GA fatal accident rate by 10 percent over a 10-year period (2009-2018).

Loss of Control – mainly stalls – accounts for approximately 40 percent of fatal GA accidents. Similar to commercial aviation, the FAA is focused on reducing general aviation accidents by using a primarily non-regulatory, proactive, and data-driven strategy to get results.

In the short term, the group agreed to raise awareness on the importance of basic airmanship and to promote a positive safety culture. The following organizations attended the meeting and are partnering with the FAA to reach out to the many diverse facets of the general aviation community: Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).

For the long term, Administrator Huerta called on the aviation community to install life-saving equipment (angle of attack indicators, inflatable restraints, two-axis autopilots) in older airplanes, to improve general aviation data, and to improve airman certification testing and training. To meet these goals, the general aviation community and the FAA agreed to work together to move forward as quickly as possible on three key initiatives:



Participate and invest in the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC): Industry participation is key to data analysis that leads to the development of voluntary safety enhancements. The group uses a data driven process modeled on the highly successful Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST).

Sharing data through the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system and other voluntary programs will help educate and shape the safety culture of the GA community. The FAA plans to expand ASIAS to general aviation in the next few years. FAA and industry will work together to find incentives to increase voluntary reporting.

Support the overhaul of airmen testing and training standards: An industry and government working group is overhauling the standards by incorporating risk management and decision-making into flight training and testing.

Expedite the Part 23 certification process to reduce costs and install new technology in airplanes: An industry and government committee is working on streamlining certification for the installation of certain safety technologies.

The General Aviation Accident Rate. While the number of fatal general aviation accidents over the last decade has gone down, so have the estimated of total GA flight hours, likely due to economic factors.

Over the past three years, fatal accidents from Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) have been reduced by more than 50 percent compared to the previous three years. However, the general aviation fatal accident rate appears to have remained relatively static based on the FAA’s flight hours estimates. The preliminary estimate for FY 2012 is a fatal accident rate of 1.09. Final data will be available later this year. In FY 2011, there were 275 fatal GA accidents. In 2010, there were 270 fatal GA accidents. The accident rate for 2011 was 1.13 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown and was 1.10 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown in 2010.  

The Top 10 Leading Causes of Fatal General Aviation Accidents 2001-2011

1.  Loss of Control Inflight
2.  Controlled Flight Into Terrain
3.  System Component Failure – Powerplant
4.  Low Altitude Operations
5.  Unknown or Undetermined
6.  Other
7.  Fuel Related
8.  System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
9.  Midair Collisions
10. Windshear or Thunderstorm

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