Road To Lower Accident Rates: Understand The Data

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Although builders of amateur-built aircraft often work with limited resources, they can still apply the methodical strategies of data-driven risk mitigation, according to Paul Dye, editor of KITPLANES magazine and a former senior flight director at NASA. In a keynote talk at the opening day of the Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, Dye said that builders—and even pilots doing their own repairs and maintenance work—can and should adopt risk models built on actual data, not hangar tales and rumor.

"Many builders don't look at risk rationally, instead making decisions based on rumors or old wives' tales," Dye said. "Thinking through the risk associated with building and flying decisions can help lower mishap numbers, as well as creating aircraft that are better suited for the mission at hand," he added. Dye said builders often add complexity to designs that only serve to increase risk rather than diminish it. "Perfection in design comes when there is nothing left to be taken away. This applies to operations as well," Dye told a group of about 100 participants at Sebring. Dye is a veteran homebuilder and retired from NASA after years as a flight director for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.