European GA Accident Numbers Show Some Improvement

Pilots face problems similar to their American counterparts.

EASA Safety Review
The European Aviation Safety Agency recently released its annual review.EASA

The 2016 edition of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) annual review looks both similar to and different from what U.S. pilots might expect to see here. While considerably fewer aircraft operate within European airspace, hence creating far fewer accidents and fatalities, the challenges pilots face in that region look very much like those facing their U.S. counterparts.

For example, EASA said while non-commercial (GA) aircraft accidents produced the second greatest number of fatalities at 65, that number represented a dramatic drop from the previous year’s 79. Of the slightly more than 300 GA accidents last year, nearly 60 percent occurred during the landing phase, followed closely by takeoffs. Just as in the United States, EASA found the top risk area for GA pilots was loss of control, followed by terrain conflict, engine failure and airborne conflicts. The top human factors issue in European GA focused squarely on flight crew perception and awareness as they relate to loss of control.

Gliders and sailplane operations accounted for 27 fatalities in 2015, with loss of control emerging as the No. 1 risk area in this arena. Although 2015’s 27 fatalities represented the greatest number since 2012, that total also does represent a decline from the 2006 to 2012 period.

Accidents involving remotely piloted aircraft systems, or drones, skyrocketed last year from fewer than 100 in 2014 to 400 in 2015, with drone violations of controlled airspace representing the greatest risk area. Last year’s crash of a Hawker Hunter at the Shoreham airshow also killed 11 people on the ground, and non-commercial helicopters accounted for seven fatalities.