FAA Accident Statistics a Puzzle

Accident rate rises to second highest level in a decade.

The 2010 Nall Report analyzing accident data from 2009 has been released, and the findings are troubling. While at first glance the numbers appeared to show improvements in the past decade with a total of 1,418 general aviation accidents, 255 of which resulted in fatalities, they did not tell the whole story.

The decrease in the number of non-commercial fixed-wing accidents compared with 2008 was 5 percent, while the decrease in total amount of fixed-wing flight activity was down 10 percent. That meant the number of accidents per 100,000 hours of flight was 6.60 — the second highest this decade and only a hair shy of the 2005 figure of 6.64. Looking at the trends over the past decade, it is also surprising that there appears to be a very slight but consistent rise in non-commercial fixed-wing accidents. Over the same time period, non-commercial and commercial helicopter and commercial fixed-wing operations have generally shown decreasing accident trends.