EAA: Experimental Fatal Accidents Drop In Past Year

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Homebuilt aircraft saw a drop in fatal accidents in the most recent year reported by the FAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association reported Wednesday. Aircraft in the FAA’s experimental category had 40 fatal accidents from October 2014 through September 2015, down 20 percent from 51 accidents in the previous fiscal year. There also was a drop in the fatal accidents for specialized aircraft used for racing, exhibition, research and development — 61 during the fiscal year, compared to 68 the previous year. The numbers met the FAA’s goal to reduce that accident count to 64. According to EAA, data on accident rates and hours flown — which can gauge trends over time — are reported by calendar year, making it difficult to compare the FAA’s fiscal-year counts. Still, EAA called the latest report a positive one and pointed to various safety efforts. Among them is a yearlong competition EAA launched in July, the Founder’s Innovation Prize, to develop ideas for reducing loss-of-control accidents.

“This is excellent news to see this type of reduction in fatal accident numbers, which are already smaller than other types of popular recreational pursuits,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “However, when discussing small totals such as those in homebuilt aviation, even an uptick of three to five accidents per year is a major percentage increase. That’s why it’s so important for EAA and the entire amateur-built aviation community to continue focusing on safety and education, which is always more effective than additional regulation.” Paul Dye, editor of Kitplanes and a member of EAA’s Homebuilt Aircraft Council, said it remains to be seen if there’s a trend in accidents compared to flight hours, but the experimental community has worked hard to identify accident causes and make safety improvements. “Many of the community leaders are seeing more talk of, and attention to, the topic of risk reduction among the builder and pilot population, and that can only act as a force to drive total mishap numbers down. The proof will be if we continue to see improvement each year — then we’ll know that we’re on the right track,” he said.

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