NTSB Says GA Safety Data Flawed

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The methodology used by the FAA to estimate hours flown each year by the GA fleet is inadequate, the NTSB said in a report released last week. As a result, the true accident risk for domestic general aviation operations has likely changed less during the years since 1985 than FAA data would suggest. An accurate and stable activity measure is needed to portray the accident rate accurately, which is critical to formulating and evaluating general aviation safety initiatives, the NTSB said. In its study, the board found that the number of active pilots and the amount of aviation fuel consumed may provide a truer picture of GA activity than the FAA's method of surveying a sample of registered aircraft owners. "In order to ensure the long-term usefulness of the data, the process of collecting and reporting general aviation activity must be well documented, performed in a timely manner, and allocated the resources necessary to maintain consistency year after year," the report concludes.