The most recent general aviation safety report from AOPA’s Air Safety Institute shows an “unprecedented” decrease in non-commercial airplane accidents, dropping below 1,000 annually for the first time.
It’s tempting to correlate the drop in GA fixed-wing accidents with a reduction in overall flight hours, but FAA estimates show that the safety improvement notched noteworthy gains even when taking into account the accidents rate, that is, the number of accidents per 100,000 hours of flying.
GA fixed-wing accidents fell to 955 in 2013. They recorded another 3 percent drop in 2014 to 923. The GA fatal accident rate, meanwhile, dropped below 1.00 for the first time since the Air Safety Institute began tracking the data 25 years ago. There were 281 fatalities in GA fixed-wing accidents in 2014, also an improvement over previous years.
The report doesn’t speculate about why GA safety is improving, but clearly the increasing adoption of GPS moving map technology, cockpit weather data transceivers, and terrain and traffic alert devices, among other safety gear, are having a positive cumulative effect.
The FAA thinks GA can do even better, and is helping spur further technological innovation through efforts like streamlined angle-of-attack indicator approvals and the Part 23 rewrite that seeks to remove barriers to certifying safety equipment, as well as changes in pilot training.