Monday, January 23, 2012

NTSB's probe into experimental aircraft accidents

The NTSB today said it has finished collecting data on accidents involving experimental aircraft.

Here's the NTSB news release:

WASHINGTON - Throughout the 2011 calendar year, the National
Transportation Safety Board has been conducting a study of
Experimental Amateur-Built (E-AB) aircraft to evaluate the
safety of this growing and innovative segment of general
aviation. In addition to using the information gathered
during its accident investigations, the NTSB has been
working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and individual
owners and builders to evaluate a range of issues unique to
this popular segment of general aviation.

"The cooperation we have received from EAA and the E-AB
community has been tremendous," said NTSB Chairman Deborah
A.P Hersman. "Through this study, we hope that we'll be able
to give the innovators and aviators in the community
information about accidents that will result in a real and
immediate safety payoff for them when they are flying these
aircraft."

As part of the study, NTSB investigators have conducted in-
depth investigations of 222 E-AB aircraft accidents that
occurred during 2011. Fifty-four of these accidents resulted
in 67 fatalities. Most of these accidents (93%) involved
amateur-built airplanes, the remaining accidents involved
gyroplanes (4%), helicopters (2%), and gliders (1%). These
accidents occurred in 44 states, with California (18
accidents), Texas (16 accidents), and Florida (14 accidents)
accounting for the most. More than half (53%) of the E-AB
accidents investigated in 2011 involved E-AB aircraft that
were bought used, as opposed to having been built by the
current owner.

The EAA has supported the study by conducting a web-based
survey of E-AB owners and builders. More than 5,000 E-AB
owners and builders responded to EAA's survey, and 4,923 of
these responses were sufficiently complete to use in
analyses. Most respondents (97%) described E-AB airplanes,
while gliders, gyrocopters, and helicopters were each
described by slightly less than 1% of the respondents.

Sixty-three percent of respondents had already built their
E-AB aircraft, 13% were currently building their E-AB
aircraft, and nearly 24% had bought used E-AB aircraft. More
than 340 distinct makes of amateur-built aircraft were
reported, although kit manufacturers accounted for more than
55% of the reported aircraft.

"The NTSB is extremely pleased with the number of
respondents who participated in the survey," said Dr. Joseph
Kolly, Director of the Office of Research and Engineering.
"The survey data provides us with quantifiable, factual
information that enriches our understanding of how E-AB
aircraft are built and operated."

The safety study is scheduled to be completed in the spring
of 2012.

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