Why Can't General Aviation Move the Safety Needle?

Accident rate stayed flat in 2012.

Runway Traffic NTSB

Runway Traffic NTSB

Courtesy of the NTSB

Highlighting the growing frustration aviation officials face in their quest to improve general aviation safety, accident statistics released this week remained virtually unchanged from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

There were 1,471 GA accidents in 2012 versus 1,470 in 2011, according to the latest statistics compiled by the NTSB. Fatalities, meanwhile, edged slightly lower from 448 to 432 while the accident rate per 100,000 hours fell marginally from 6.84 to 6.78.

U.S. airline operations were fatality free in 2011 and 2012, while on-demand Part 135 operations showed safety improvements across the board. That left general aviation as the lone segment where initiatives aimed at improving safety appear to be having little effect.

The NTSB has put GA on its "Most Wanted" list of safety improvements, and last month released five safety videos highlighting persistent dangers such as loss of control at low altitude, inadvertant flight into low visibility, dealing with inflight emergencies and improving risk management. The NTSB stresses that it sees the same types of accidents happening over and over again.

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