AOPA’s Air Safety Institute recently released The Accident Record of Technologically Advanced Airplanes — a report that concludes that the introduction of TAAs (technologically advance aircraft; the definition is extremely broad) has not decreased accident rates, as some expected to happen. In fact, newer glass cockpit airplanes had “demonstrably higher rates of accidents during takeoffs, landings and go-arounds,” according to the study.
Glass-panel airplanes have become ubiquitous over the past 10 years; nearly every new airplane type today is delivered with flat-panel avionics. The increasing number of TAAs enabled ASI’s study, which included 20,000 certified piston-engine airplanes delivered between 1996 and 2010 by seven leading airplane manufacturers: Cessna, Cirrus, Piper, Hawker Beechcraft, Diamond, Lancair/Columbia and Mooney. The airplanes studied included approximately equal numbers of TAAs and analog panels.
The study found that the accident rate varied between different categories of airplanes, but found “differences between analog and glass panels were minimal.” The study’s authors reached no conclusion as to why landing or takeoff accidents would be greater with TAAs.