FAA Administrator Takes Aim at GA Safety

FAA plan aims at gradual safety improvement: homebuilt safety targeted.

On Monday FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced a plan to reduce general aviation accidents substantially and incrementally over the next 10 years with a 10 percent improvement as the target. At Sun 'n Fun, the FAA will host the first of nearly 100 meetings across the country designed to let pilots and the FAA work together to come up with ways to improve the record. In announcing the plan, Babbitt made clear that the GA safety record was unacceptable. Last year there were 268 general aviation fatal accidents resulting in 457 deaths. Based on preliminary hours-flown data, the fatal accident rate is 1.14 accidents per hundred thousand hours flown, an increase in the accident rate over the three previous years. The plan calls for the improvements to be made largely through a result of programs aimed at identifying the nature of the risks. To home in on what those risks are, Babbitt announced a series of public meetings intended to let pilots share their safety concerns with the feds to create ways to effectively address those concerns. Babbitt expressed a desire, also, to move the FAA away from enforcement actions against pilots and more toward education and remediation.

He also voiced strong concern for homebuilt safety, calling the high percentage of amateur-built accidents unacceptable. In 2010 homebuilts, which represent just 5 percent of the fleet, accounted for 22 percent of the fatal accidents. Babbitt, however, announced no formal plan for dealing with homebuilt safety.