New Data Credits EAA With Helping Increase E-AB Safety
October 11, 2012 - There was encouraging news for homebuilt aviation in the safety data contained in AOPA's annual Nall Report on GA safety, which was released last week. The 52-page report contains comprehensive statistics on accidents in all facets of GA during calendar year 2010, the most recent year for which there is sufficient data.
EAA was credited for its role in increasing amateur-built aircraft safety with its many educational initiatives in recent years. The report found a 28 percent reduction in the experimental amateur-built (E-AB) fatal accident rate over 2009, and a 9 percent drop in the overall E-AB accident rate over that period. The raw number of E-AB and experimental light-sport (E-LSA) fatal accidents was down by one-third, making 2010 the safest year for the two categories since 2004 (also the year that the light-sport rule was introduced).
E-AB and E-LSA aircraft continue to account for a disproportionate percentage of the non-commercial accidents versus the amount of hours flown by the segment, although this is in part due to the uneven distribution of aircraft uses across the GA fleet. For example, the vast majority of flight training - statistically among the safest of GA activities - occurs in type-certificated aircraft.
The per-hour accident rate is also a difficult statistic to compare across the GA spectrum. For example, an E-AB or E-LSA pilot flying for recreation might be expected to make more "short hops" than a pilot flying a type-certificated aircraft for personal transportation. An hour of "short hops" contains more time in higher-risk phases of flight such as takeoff, approach, and landing than an hour of cross-country flying.
According to the data, a higher proportion of accidents is caused by mechanical failure in the E-AB and E-LSA segments as compared to the overall GA fleet. As EAA has previously stated, a significant percentage of these E-AB accidents occur in the first several hours of flight testing.
"EAA continues to develop new and innovative safety programs to help amateur-built aircraft builders and aviators," said Tom Charpentier, EAA government advocacy specialist. "Aided by the expert guidance of the EAA Homebuilders Advisory Council, we have been continuously adding to and improving our existing safety curriculum including the Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor programs, webinars, SportAir Workshops, and AirVenture forums. Safety education is a key component of EAA and we strive to improve both ground and flight safety of the experimental community."