The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report regarding aviation accidents in 2011. The report showed a mild increase in the total number of general aviation accidents when compared to 2010. Due to an increase in the total flight hours, however, the rate of accidents actually decreased last year. In addition to showing fewer accidents per flight hour, the report showed that, for the second year in a row, there were zero fatal accidents involving U.S. airlines or commuter air traffic.
The news was not all good, unfortunately. Total fatalities were up in 2011, most notably in on demand Part 135 operations. These operations include sightseeing aircraft, air taxis, charter planes and emergency medical aircraft. The total accident rate for these operations also rose in 2011. General aviation accidents were also on the rise, though the number of fatal accidents dropped slightly and the number of accidents per flight hour also decreased.
The sheer number of general aviation accidents, nearly 1,500, demonstrated why the NTSB chose to place general aviation safety on its Most Wanted List for 2011. The NTSB has called for improvements in the aircraft themselves, as well as in the flying environment and pilot training and preparation. The accident rate in general aviation is almost 40 times that of larger transport aviation, according to the NTSB.
While the absence of fatalities among U.S. airlines is excellent news, hundreds of people still lost their lives in aviation accidents in 2011. The NTSB remains committed to making air travel safer for passengers and crew. More can be done to enhance the safety of everyone involved in the aviation industry.
Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Annual Aviation Statistics For 2011 Released: No Fatalities On U.S. Airlines or Commuters, General Aviation Accidents Increased," 27 April 2012