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General aviation accidents dropped in 2011

January 21, 2013, 11:03 am

According to a recent reportby the National Transportation Safety Board, general aviation accidents fell in 2011, highlighting the sector's improving safety over recent years, while aviation as a whole increased.

NTSB officials said that in the aviation community as a whole, there were 495 deaths in 2011, up from 476 on a year-over-year comparison. The report also indicated that fatalities from all U.S. transportation decreased in 2011. The data showed that there were 34,434 transportation fatalities in 2011, down from 35,043 in 2010.

“Transportation accidents remain one of the nation's leading causes of death,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. “We can do better, which is why the NTSB shines a light on key safety issues each year through the Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.”

However, general aviation is bucking the trend of aviation accidents. While general aviation accounted for 444 fatalities in 2011, that is a drop of 10 fatalities on a year-over-year comparison. The data showed, however, that air traffic taxi fatalities increased to 41 in 2011, up from 17 in 2010.

Toward the end of 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board listed general aviation on its 10 Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements, even with improvements in fatality numbers in recent years.

That report indicated that in the past 10 years, the aviation accident rate has averaged 6.8 per every 100,000 flight hours and has stayed relatively flat during that time.However,NTSB officials warn that personal flying accidents have increased 20 percent while fatal incidences have gone up 25 percent. The NTSB investigates approximately 1,500 GA accidents each year.

Certain organizations are not denying the numbers but have said that safety programs are increasing awareness and safety in general aviation. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association released a statement showing that general aviation fatalities have gone down in the past 10years.

Bruce Landsburg,president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and Air Safety Institute, said that AOPA training was given to 1.9 million people last year as the group worked with the NTSB to curb the accident rate.

“Everyone agrees that safety is a never-ending priority,” said Sean Elliott, vice president of advocacy and safety of theExperimental Aircraft Association.“That is why EAA has been so active with other organizations, type clubs pilot groups, manufacturers, and government agencies. We maintain that education is a far better way to improve safety than regulation.”

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