Determined to continue driving down the number of general aviation accidents, the Federal Aviation Administration – working with industry organizations like the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association and General Aviation Manufacturers Association – will begin a major effort next month to reach out to the pilot community to focus on improving safety through a series of nearly 100 public meetings and related activities.
The outreach effort, under which FAA safety advisers visit the GA community and engage pilots in safety awareness programs and discussions, will begin April 2 during the annual Sun ’n Fun gathering in Lakeland, Fla. Agency officials have targeted another 97 events across the country that will be visited by FAA safety teams.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told reporters Monday that while the general aviation fatal accident rate has gone down in recent years, “We want to take that rate down [another] 10 percent over the next five years.” He acknowledged that GA flying has declined over the past few years due to the recession and rising fuel prices, but he said it is important to keep pushing the accident rate down because “we expect traffic to come back” in the future.
FAA’s “safety stand down” effort will focus on professionalism, preflight checks, maintaining situational awareness during cruise and attention to airspeed and aircraft control. FAA stresses that pilots should “approach every flight as if your life depends on it, because it does.” FAA also warns that pilots should avoid complacency and be on guard for loss of control.
One area of particular concern is the high number of fatal accidents involving amateur-built aircraft, officials said. While amateur-built airplanes account for only about 5% of total general aviation fleet hours, they are involved in 22% of U.S. fatal general aviation accidents.
FAA is working on Advisory Circular guidance containing training experience recommendations for owners, pilots and flight instructors.