Nall Report Shows a Declining Fixed-Wing GA Accident Rate

Total accident numbers increased in the latest report.

airplanes on grass
The AOPA’s Air Safety Institute’s new Nall Report showed some good and some bad news for GA.Bee Calder/Unsplash

The AOPA’s Air Safety Institute last week published the 30th Nall Report, an annual look at safety statistics surrounding GA flying. The latest report looks at 2018 safety data gathered from both the NTSB and the FAA.

The report began, “Although 2018 saw an increase in total accidents, the good news is that the overall total and fatal accident rates continued its downward trend, finishing with a total rate of 4.56 per 100,000 hours and a fatal accident rate of 0.74 per 100,000 hours.” The previous Nall Report published in 2019 (reviewing 2017 data) showed a decline in total accidents from the previous year for a total accident rate of 4.81 per 100,000 hours and 0.76 per 100,000 respectively.

Based on 2018 data, the total number of GA accidents rose to 1,033 from the 1,002 reported the previous year. Non-commercial fixed wing operations reported 166 crashes claiming the lives of 277 people to create a fatal accident rate of 0.88 per 100,000 operations. The previous Nall Report indicated 270 people lost their lives.

The report said the number of pilot-related accidents declined below 70 percent, though this number could be an anomaly, as there were some incomplete NTSB reports reviewed as the report was being completed. Pilot-related accidents numbered 675 of which 89 were fatal ,with landing accidents accounting for nearly half the total at 322. Luckily very few of those 322 became fatalities. Loss of control on landing was a causal factor in 177 of those landing accidents. Though the total number of weather-related accidents declined to 23—with 21 being fatal—pilots continuing VFR flights into IMC weather accounted for more than half the total at 14 with almost every one being fatal.

Additional accident categories and supporting data contained in this year’s Nall Report are available for review on the Air Safety Institute’s site.

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