Accident Numbers Show Positive Results for Amateur-Built Aircraft

Declines come in spite of annual increases in flight hours.

Fatal accident totals in amateur-built aircraft were down 18 percent to just 27 between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017.EAA Chapter 846

The recent end of the FAA’s fiscal year at the close of September brought good news to the amateur-built aircraft world when agency data showed a marked decline in the number of accidents in that category of aircraft.

“For the 12-month period from October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017, fatal accident totals in amateur-built aircraft were down 18 percent to just 27, compared with 33 during the 2016 fiscal year,” according to the EAA. Best of all, this most recent decline continues a four-year trend in fatal accidents that demonstrates a 47 percent drop during that period, despite an increasing number of flight hours year over year.

Amateur-built was not the only category to experience good news. Fatal accident totals in the experimental category — including racing aircraft, those used for exhibit only, research-and-development and some types of light-sport aircraft — declined as well. The total number of fatal accidents among experimental aircraft declined from 49 to 45 in the 12-month period ending September 30, numbers that now hover nearly 25 percent below the FAA’s “not-to-exceed” goal of 59 for the same period.

EAA has worked closely with the FAA and the NTSB, as well as the FAA’s General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, to reduce accident numbers. A highlight of the past few years has also been EAA’s Founder’s Innovation Prize competition that seeks out innovative new methods of reducing loss-of-control accidents in amateur-built aircraft. The competition focuses on transition and recurrent training, as well as the use of an additional safety pilot during initial flight testing in amateur-built aircraft.