Safety Updates: AOPA Analysis, NTSB Most Wanted

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The Nall Report, an annual analysis of general aviation accident data by AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, found an increase in accidents involving amateur-built aircraft. The statistics from 2008 showed more fatal accidents and fatalities than any year in the past decade, the report says. "The 27 percent lethality rate in these accidents was 10 full percentage points higher than that for accidents in type-certificated airplanes," according to the report. The foundation is working with EAA to address safety issues, said ASF President Bruce Landsberg. "Builders, pilots, and designers should have reasonable freedom to experiment, while members of the public are entitled to their expectation of safety," he said. Also, the FAA has issued a response to the NTSB's annual list of Most Wanted Safety Improvements. The FAA says it has made progress in the main areas of concern cited by the NTSB: fatigue, emergency medical services flights, runway safety, and crew resource management. Regarding the installation of image recorders in cockpits, the FAA says it is working to improve data monitoring systems but has no plans to mandate image devices.

The Nall Report also expanded its database this year to include an analysis of accidents involving helicopters and for-hire GA operations with aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or less. Overall, the 236 fatal accidents and 433 deaths were the lowest on record, but the fatal accident rate, taking into account the decrease in flight activity, was close to the historic average. Click here for a short synopsis of the findings, or click here for the full report. The NTSB's most-wanted list of safety improvements for aviation also includes the operation of aircraft in icing conditions. The design and approval process for flight in icing conditions should be revised using current research about freezing rain, and those revised requirements should be applied to currently certificated aircraft, the NTSB said. Also, crews flying airplanes with pneumatic de-ice boots should activate the boots as soon as the airplane enters icing conditions, the safety board said. Click here for the complete list of wanted improvements from the NTSB; click here for the response from the FAA.