SW Aviator Magazine - April/May 1999 issue
Kudos to General Aviation
by Professor A.K. Cydent
General Aviation records from the files of the National Transportation Safety Board ("Accidents, Fatalities and Rates, 1982 through 1997") plainly show that general aviation pilots are becoming more safety conscious, involved in fewer accidents, and—if involved in an accident—are handling the situation more safely. This all lends to a reduction in fatalities.

Sure, some of the praise belongs to the aircraft manufacturers, mods, ADs, etc., but we can discuss their contributions in later issues. Praise is also due to JD Huss—our Safety Program Manager and the author of this magazine's "Hangar Flying" column—and the office he represents.

In the years surveyed, accident rates fell from a staggering 3,233 to 1,884 per year. Fatalities also plummeted from 1,187 to 681 per year.

In 1982, there were 10.9 accidents and 1.99 fatalities per 100,000 flight hours. In 1997, the numbers had dropped to 7.51 and 1.42 per 100,000 hours.

There is one negative apect in the statistics, however. Total flight hours in 1982 surpassed 29.6 million, while pilots in 1997 amassed only 24.7 million. An encouraging sign is that 1997 was not the lowest year. 1994 was, with 22.2 million hours, and the number has climbed since then. But still, in the big picture, flight hours have decreased.

Now, I'm going to pretend I'm like an ostrich who's had his head buried in the sand and has no idea why there's been a decline in flight hours. I want you to take potshots at what you think the causes are. Send me your opinions on why General Aviation flight hours have decreased. And let me know if you think the upswing in hours from 1994 will continue.

You're welcome to include accident and accident prevention material somewhere in your responses. I would also like to hear from you about how you at some point avoided—or lessened the impact of—an accident (stretching the G-factor over time, perhaps). Maybe you turned a probable fatal accident into a survival story. And yes, war stories are acceptable, as long as they're real!

“Professor A.K. Cydent” is an ex-FAA Investigator and Army Rotorcrfat Instructor who may have more answers to accident-related questions than we thought possible.

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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibilty for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising out of it. Fly safe.