January 11, 2013
Business aircraft accidents were down overall worldwide in 2012, but those involving U.S. business jets have been increasing, according to the latest statistics from business aviation safety expert Robert E. Breiling Associates.
At the same time, U.S. helicopter accidents jumped notably in 2012, while the non-U.S. registered helicopter fleet improved its safety record.
The number of U.S. business jet accidents increased by five in 2012 to 19 accidents. Of those, five were fatal and involved 21 deaths. This compares to 14 business jet accidents – and no fatal accidents – in 2011.
Three of last year’s fatal business jet accidents involved U.S.-registered aircraft that crashed outside the U.S. They included a G-IV crash in the Congo that killed four, another G-IV crash in France with three fatalities (all crew) and a Learjet 35 crash in Mexico that resulted in five fatalities.
The other two fatal crashes occurred in North Carolina – a Cessna CE-501 involving five fatalities and a Cessna CE-550 that was fatal to two.
While the number of U.S. business jet accidents have been on the rise, the number of incidents declined from 54 to 39. According to Breiling, though, the number of landing-related accidents and incidents involving business jets spiked in 2012 to 58%. This is up from an average of between 40-45% over the past five years, Breiling says. He notes the landing accidents were just as prevalent with jets flown by two crew as they were by single-pilot operations.
While the U.S. business jet fleet’s accident rate worsened in 2012, the U.S. business turboprop fleet actually improved its accident record. Business turboprops were involved in 29 accidents in 2012, compared with 43 a year earlier.
The most significant improvement came with owner-flown/personal use operations, where the number of turboprop accidents were cut in half, from 22 in 2011 to 11 last year.
The overall number of turboprop fatal accidents dropped from 13 in 2011 to seven last year, and correspondingly, the number of fatalities fell from 32 to 15.