NTSB: Crash Figures Improve, But GA Rates Worsen

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The NTSB's preliminary statistics for 2009 show an overall decrease in aviation accidents and fatalities, and "best in decades" figures for on-demand Part 135 operations, but accident and fatality rates for general aviation are up. General aviation's accident rate increased from 6.86 to 7.2 per 100,000 flight hours from 2008 to 2009, and its fatal accident rate increased from 1.21 to 1.33. The rate increases were "due to the decrease in total flight hours," according to the NTSB. GA dropped from 22.8 million hours in 2008 to about 20.46 million hours in 2009. General aviation is responsible for the lion's share of civil aviation accidents, accounting for 1,566 of 1,658 in 2008 and 1,474 of 1,551 in 2009. Of 566 total civil aviation fatalities in 2008, GA was responsible for 494. For 2009, the NTSB's preliminary figures list 534 fatalities, of which GA accounts for 474. Total fatal general aviation accidents fell slightly from 2008 to 2009, posting 275 and 272, respectively.

On-demand Part 135 operations saw its best numbers in two decades, reporting 47 accidents in 2009 with 17 fatalities. That compares with 58 accidents in 2008 that caused 69 fatalities. The segment's accident rate fell to 1.63 per 100,000 flight hours from 1.81 in 2008. There was only one fatal accident involving a Part 121 operator last year -- Colgan (Continental Connection) Flight 3407 that crashed outside of Buffalo. The NTSB's available data can be obtained online, here.