There’s truly good news for the GA community in this year’s Nall Report and analysis of general aviation accidents; GA pilots are flying more hours and having fewer accidents.
The editors of the Joseph T. Nall Report view their goal in gathering and reviewing accident data pretty much the same way they have since the first edition was published by the AOPA Air Safety Institute back in 1991. “We need to shake the persistent, stubborn recurrence of pilot-related accidents, accounting for approximately 74 percent of all accidents and all fatal accidents—a trend that continues from year to year. These accidents are often caused by lack of proficiency and poor decision making, and they typically lead to controlled flight into terrain, loss of control, or continued VFR flight into IMC.”
The latest report reviewed accident data from 2015 and showed that both overall accident and fatal accident rates as measured per 100,000 flight hours declined with the fatal accident rate falling below one fatal event per 100,000 hours. In 2015 there were 1,173 accidents; 221 fatal resulting in 375 deaths.
While the number of total accidents increased from 2014 to 2015, the number of fatal accidents declined by 4 percent, down from 229 in 2014 to 221 in 2015. The majority of accidents reported in fixed-wing non-commercial aircraft involved pilots who held a private certificate, followed by those with a commercial and finally an ATP. Students were responsible for 6.7 percent of accidents recorded. As in past reports, nearly 86 percent of all accidents occurred in daytime VFR conditions.
The Nall Report said, “This decrease in GA fatal accidents can be attributed to numerous industry initiatives designed to reduce fatal accidents by one percent every year from 2008 to 2018. While some areas are not improving as quickly as others, the overall trends show a reduction in accident rates and simultaneously an increase in total GA flight hours flown. The FAA estimated 2015 flight time around 23.98 million flight hours—a year to year increase of 3.6 percent. The overall accident rate heading downward is encouraging and highlights the impact of government agencies, associations, and industry working together toward a shared goal.”