The overall general aviation accident rate for 2020 decreased from 4.87 per 100,000 flight hours in 2019 to 4.69 per 100,000 hours, according to the 32nd edition of the Joseph T. Nall Report. Recently released by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Institute (ASI), the report also found that the rate of fatal accidents was down from 0.89 per 100,000 hours in 2019 to 0.83 in 2020. There were a total of 1,051 accidents for the year, 187 of which were fatal, with ASI noting that flight activity dropped significantly from 25.5 million hours in 2019 to 22.4 million hours in 2020.
For 2020, the institute found that overall accident rates decreased for non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft along with commercial and non-commercial helicopters. In the commercial fixed-wing segment, the accident rate jumped from 1.62 accidents per 100,000 flight hours in 2019 to 2.17 per 100,000 hours in 2020. ASI reported an overall decrease in weather-related accidents and a drop in fatal maneuvering accidents. The 32nd Nall Report recorded a rise in both overall and fatal descent and approach accidents for the year while the area that resulted in the largest number of fatal accidents was stall/spin accidents.
“An area where we see some discouragement is the commercial fixed-wing total accident rate, which rose following two years of decline,” said Robert Geske, AOPA ASI manager of aviation safety analysis. “We are also disappointed to see the number of fatal fuel-related accidents, which has remained steady at an average of eight per year for several years. Furthermore, landing accidents continue to remain the leading type of accidents, but thankfully they account for the lowest number of fatal accidents.”