NTSB Reports On Homebuilt Study

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The NTSB said this week it has completed the data-collection phase for a study on the safety of Experimental-Amateur Built aircraft. The study aims to "give the innovators and aviators in the community information about accidents that will result in a real and immediate safety payoff for them when they are flying these aircraft," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. NTSB investigators conducted in-depth investigations of 222 E-AB aircraft accidents that occurred during 2011. More than half of the accidents involved E-AB aircraft that were bought used, as opposed to having been built by the current owner, the NTSB said. Sixty-seven people died in 54 of the accidents.

More than 5,000 E-AB owners and builders responded to an EAA survey for the study. "The cooperation we have received from EAA and the E-AB community has been tremendous," said Hersman. According to the NTSB, the study will be the first to examine the building and piloting of experimental aircraft with direct input from owners and operators. The survey data "provides us with quantifiable, factual information that enriches our understanding of how E-AB aircraft are built and operated," said Joseph Kolly, director of the NTSB's Office of Research and Engineering. E-AB aircraft comprise nearly 15 percent of the U.S. general aviation fleet, and that group exhibits accident rates "greater than those of other comparable segments of GA," according to the NTSB. The board hopes the study will identify risks unique to the segment and improve the safety record. The safety study is scheduled to be completed in the next few months.