EDITOR: The sensationalist, one-sided June 18 USA TODAY investigative report “Unfit for Flight,” also published by Gannett Central Wisconsin Media, mixed a lot of data and information, some of it inaccurate, and in the process left readers with the false impression that the general aviation industry is less than totally committed to the safety of flight.
In truth, available information which could have been included in the series illustrates the industry’s focus on safety: contrary to the writer’s assertion, the safety trend for general aviation over the nearly 50-year period the story’s author referenced has been one of significant improvement, as government data show.
That’s in very large part because of aviation manufacturers’ continuing investment in safety technology, which has produced everything from engine-monitoring systems, to angle of attack indicators, to Global Positioning Systems, to enhanced- and synthetic-vision systems, to aircraft parachutes and more. These technologies and the aircraft they are installed in are accompanied by rigorous government certification standards and training requirements for pilots.
The industry’s continuing emphasis on the development of safety technologies and a sustained focus on effective training for use of the equipment is a big reason why aviation is among the safest forms of transportation. In fact, the aircraft NBAA Members use for business purposes enjoy a safety record comparable to that for the commercial airlines.
It’s unfortunate that, in aiming for sizzle, these stories ignored data trends, technological developments and other pertinent information provided by industry sources about general aviation flight safety. The result was a tremendous disservice not only to your readers, but to the hundreds of thousands of aviation professionals nationwide, who have worked diligently for decades to improve the safety of every aspect of general aviation.
President and CEO, National Business Aviation Association,