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NTSB'S Most Wanted List For 2013, General Aviation Safety Listed As One Of The Top Ten
By Shane Nolan

November 14, 2012 - The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released its 2013 Most Wanted List, with six of the ten issues focusing on highway travel where most transportation fatalities take place and includes the number one killer on the list: substance-impaired driving.

The new annual list of the independent federal safety agency's top advocacy priorities calls for ending distraction in all modes of transportation.

Distraction was the cause of multiple accidents investigated by the agency in recent years, and its deadly effects will only continue to grow as a national safety threat.

"Transportation is safer than ever, but with 35,000 annual fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries, we can, and must, do better," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "The Most Wanted List is a roadmap to improving safety for all of our nation's travelers."

The list covers all transportation modes. There are six new issue areas — distraction, fire safety, infrastructure integrity, pipeline safety, positive train control and motor vehicle collision avoidance technologies.

"We're releasing the list now so it is available to policymakers at the state and federal levels as well as industry groups as they craft their priorities for 2013," Hersman said. "We want to highlight the results of our investigations and ensure that safety has a seat at the table when decisions are made." The NTSB's 2013 Most Wanted List of transportation priorities includes:

Improve Safety of Airport Surface Operations, Preserve the Integrity of Transportation Infrastructure, Enhance Pipeline Safety, Implement Positive Train Control Systems, Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving, Improve the Safety of Bus Operations, Eliminate Distraction in Transportation, Improve Fire Safety in Transportation, Improve General Aviation Safety and Mandate Motor Vehicle Collision Avoidance Technologies. 



NTSB report on Improve General Aviation Safety - While commercial aviation continues to have a strong safety record of 2 years without a fatal accident, the NTSB continues to investigate about 1,500 accidents each year in general aviation. In many cases, pilots did not have the adequate knowledge, skills, or recurrent training to fly safely, particularly in questionable weather conditions. In addition, the more sophisticated "glass" cockpit displays present a new layer of complications for general aviation pilots. And not only are pilots dying due to human error and inadequate training, but also they are frequently transporting their families who suffer the same tragic fate. 

NTSB, what can be done? The NTSB reports that in general aviation accident investigations, the NTSB sees similar accident circumstances time after time. Adequate education and training and screening for risky behavior are critical to improving general aviation safety. For example, guidance materials should include information on the use of Internet, satellite, and other data sources for obtaining weather information. Training materials should include elements on electronic primary flight displays, and pilots should have access to flight simulators that provide equipment-specific electronic avionics displays.

Knowledge tests and flight reviews should test for awareness of weather, use of instruments, and use of "glass" cockpits. And there should be a mechanism for identifying at-risk pilots and addressing risks so that both the pilot and passengers can safely fly. Human error in general aviation accidents is not solely a pilot problem. Aircraft maintenance workers should also be required to undergo recurrent training to keep them up to date with the best practices for inspecting and maintaining electrical systems, circuit breakers, and aged wiring.


General aviation has the highest aviation accident rate within civil aviation. The rate is 6 times higher than for small commuter operators and 40 times higher than for transport category operations. Although the overall general aviation accident rate has remained relatively steady at an average of 6.8 per 100,000 flight hours, the components of that figure have changed dramatically over the last 10 years. 

In particular, personal flying accident rates have increased 20 percent, while the fatal accident rate has increased 25 percent over the same 10-year period. The NTSB sees this statistic play out frequently, having investigated an average of 1,500 general aviation accidents each year, in which more than 400 pilots and passengers are killed annually.
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