Both overall and fatal accident rates in general aviation have reached a 10-year low according to the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Joseph T. Nall Report. Report data showed fatal crashes decreasing to just 0.84 per 100,000 hours. This year’s Nall Report (PDF) reviewed trends in general aviation accidents from 2015, the most recent year for which at least 80 percent of the accidents that occurred have had probable cause determined.
Although accidents with pilot-related causes also dropped to their lowest point in the last decade, they are still the leading cause of non-commercial, fixed-wing accidents by a wide margin. According to the report, they make up approximately 74 percent of all accidents and 74.5 percent of fatal accidents. “These accidents are often caused by lack of proficiency and poor decision making, and they typically lead to controlled flight into terrain, loss of control, or continued VFR flight into IMC,” Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden wrote in in his Publisher’s View column in the report. “We will continue to provide critical education in these areas. But as an industry we need to do more to improve these undesirable statistics, and foremost, accelerate our effort to reach those that are vulnerable to pilot error.”
Accidents related to mechanical and maintenance issues made up about 16 percent of the overall total. The FAA estimated that 23.98 million hours were flown in 2015, an increase of 3.6 percent over the previous year. The first Nall Report was published in 1991.