The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday, October 4, issued a report on general aviation safety, and especially the FAA’s need for better data to determine where to focus its safety improvement efforts. While the report itself deals only with FAR Part 91 operations, it points out the need for all aircraft owners and operators, fixed- and rotary-wing, Parts 91, 125, 133, and 137, as well as Part 135, to accurately fill out the General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey.
The report notes that one of the most important numbers in determining how safe general aviation has been over the previous year is tied to a voluntary survey that has a very low response rate from aircraft owners. It also notes that the FAA does not collect other data — such as a pilot’s time in type or frequency of recurrent safety training — that could be important in identifying problems in subcategories of GA. And it suggests that disparities between a type of operation and its proportion of overall accidents could mask problems in another type of operation.
The GAO report offers specific recommendations to enhance the FAA’s efforts to improve GA safety: collect and maintain data on each certificated pilot’s recurrent training; require, in a way that minimizes the impact on the GA community, the collection of the number of hours that general aviation aircraft fly; and set specific safety improvement goals for individual industry segments.