AOPA’s Air Safety Institute released its 24th annual Joseph T. Nall Report (PDF) this week, including for the first time a review of helicopter accident causes. Overall, accident rates for non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft climbed from 6.30 per 100,000 hours in 2010 to 6.54 in 2012 due to flight time decreasing while accident counts remained level in that period. The fatal accident rate for this category also climbed, from 1.17 to 1.22, which nearly matched the 10-year average of 1.24, the report notes. FAA data for 2011 accidents rates were unavailable, so the rates indicate data from 2010 and 2012, ASI said. On the commercial side, accident rates fell for both aircraft categories. Fixed-wing aircraft dropped from 2.97 to 2.62 per 100,000 hours while helicopter rates dropped from 2.22 to 1.93.
Non-commercial helicopter accident rates went from 5.29 in 2010 to 8.02 in 2012, and the fatality rate increased to 1.20 from 1.07, according to the report. Nearly 21 percent of accidents in 2012 were from helicopter-specific causes such as loss of tail rotor effectiveness, second only to maneuvering flight at 23 percent. “Fuel management and unfavorable weather were only slightly less prominent than in the fixed-wing record, accounting for a combined 8 percent of all accidents compared to 11 percent of those on non-commercial airplane flights,” the report noted.Meanwhile, the Air Safety Institute’s accompanying GA Accident Scorecard(PDF) with data for 2013 showed some new lows. The fatal accident rate for non-commercial fixed-wing accidents was 0.99 in 2013, the first time it was below 1.00 since tracking began, ASI noted.The number of accidents that year dropped below 1,000 for the first time.
AOPA also this week released a video on stalls and angle of attack indicators. It includes a review of stalls and loss of control – among the top causes of fatalities – and describes how AOA indicators are used. Airlines and the military have long used them for precise information about angle of attack, and in recent years, streamlined rules and more favorable costs have brought them to the GA market, ASI said.