The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) latest round of general aviation safety alerts continues the concerted effort of the agency, along with FAA and industry stakeholders, to address a general aviation accident rate that has refused to decline in recent years.
NTSB issued five new alerts that address common safety hazards and provides practical strategies to mitigate them. The alerts cover: restraints; engine power loss due to carburetor icing; emergency locator transmitters; securing of items in the aircraft cabin; and proper use of fiber or nylon self-locking nuts.
The alerts follow five alerts that NTSB issued last March, many of which involved decision-making skills and risk assessment. NTSB released the alerts to raise visibility of the fact that general aviation safety has remained on its “Most Wanted List” of transportation safety improvements. “These five safety alerts remind pilots, mechanics and passengers of basic safety precautions to add to their checklists to ensure a safe flight for all on board,” says NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, adding that many of the accidents can be prevented.
NTSB has noted that while the commercial accident rate has declined, the general aviation rate has stagnated, with accidents averaging more than 1,500 a year over the past decade. NTSB notes that these accidents result in 475 fatalities and injuries in the U.S. each year.
The effort is part of a multipronged effort within the aviation community to highlight general aviation safety. These range from a significant undertaking by the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee to develop metrics that pinpoint the most common problem areas to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta appealing directly to the pilot community to use sound decision-making while flying.
FAA and industry have established a goal of lowering the accident rate to one fatal accident per 100,000 hr. flown by fiscal 2018. To progress toward that rate, the number of fatal accidents need to dip below 253 in fiscal 2013, but the number by midyear in 2013 was outpacing the goal.
Other efforts underway include an overhaul of airmen testing and training standards and a rewrite of Part 23 certification standards to bring safety equipment to market more quickly at a lower cost.
FAA’s European counterpart, the European Aviation Safety Agency, has similarly emphasized addressing general aviation safety.