Homebuilt Safety Record Improves

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For the 2017 fiscal year, there were 27 fatal accidents involving experimental category aircraft, down 18% from the prior year and down 47% over the last four years, says EAA, which is celebrating the trend. “These are historic lows for fatal accidents in amateur-built aircraft and this continuing trend is a credit to everyone who is focusing on safety,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “The overall fatal accident numbers remain much lower than other recreational pursuits, such as paddle sports, skiing and snowboarding, and driving all-terrain vehicles. Statistics even show that being involved in a fatal amateur-built aircraft accident is less likely than being killed in a lightning strike incident.”

The improvement in fatal accident frequency is compounded by the increase in total flight hours by experimental aircraft. The 2017 FAA Aerospace Forecast reports that experimental aircraft flight hours grew 1.4% annually from 2010 to 2016 and are predicted to keep growing more than 2% per year, while flight hours of certified piston singles are predicted to decline by roughly 1.5% per year. EAA credits some of the improvement with regulatory changes permitting safety pilots during initial flight testing of amateur-built aircraft, which were formerly flight tested by their builders, who were rarely qualified for test pilot duties.

Comments (3)

Can we be honest with ourselves here? Those comparisons are completely disingenuous. Is he comparing Americans killed in homebuilt accidents vs. Americans killed in skiing accidents? Because there are so few pilots, it's not a valid comparison at all. How about fatalities per hour in homebuilts vs. skiing? Or fatalities per pilot vs. skier?

The overall GA fatality rate is over 1 per 100,000 hours, higher for homebuilts. The skiing fatality rate is 0.88 fatalities per million days of skiing. A week on the slopes is about twice as safe as an hour in a homebuilt.

Posted by: jvo fnr | November 21, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Maybe - but you have to drive to the slopes to ski... ;)

Posted by: Brian Garrett | November 21, 2017 5:49 PM    Report this comment

It is not helpful when aviation enthusiasts minimize aviation risks. GA popularity is adversely effected by the deaths and destruction associated with crashes that in many cases could have been prevented.

There are real reasons for one part of aviation killing hundreds each year and another much more popular part of aviation kills no one.

Posted by: Unknown | November 22, 2017 12:02 PM    Report this comment

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