July 18, 2013
Credit: Beechcraft Premier
Business aviation posted a spotty accident record in the first half of the year with business jets and turboprops involved in fewer overall accidents but more fatal accidents, according to the latest statistics released by safety expert Robert E. Breiling Associates.
In its preliminary report covering the first six months of 2013, Breiling finds that the U.S. business jet fleet was involved in seven accidents, compared with 10 a year ago. But of those seven accidents, three were fatal with nine fatalities, compared with two fatal accidents and nine fatalities in the first six months of 2012.
Beechcraft Premier aircraft accounted for two of the U.S. fatal accidents this year, resulting in seven fatalities. Both involved aborted landings on approach in visual meteorological conditions, and one occurred at night. The third fatal accident involved a U.S.-registered Learjet that crashed on approach in Venezuela during a heavy rainstorm, killing two.
Internationally, four business jets crashed in the first half, one of which was a fatal accident with two fatalities. This compares with three accidents, one of which was fatal to three people, during the first half of 2012. The one fatal accident in 2013 also involved a Beechcraft Premier, Breiling reports.
The accidents occurring during the landing phase continue to be a problem spot for business aircraft, Breiling notes. Historically, over the past 10 years, 45% of business jet accidents/incidents occurred in the landing phase. That number, however, jumped to 58% last year.
U.S.-registered business turboprops, meanwhile, were involved in 14 accidents during the first half of the year. More than half of those – eight – were fatal and resulted in 15 deaths. While there was only one more accident in the first half than in the same period in 2012 (13 turboprop accidents), the number of fatal accidents was up significantly. None of the U.S.-registered turboprops were involved in fatal accidents in the first half of last year. The fatal accidents this year involved Piper, Cessna, Pilatus, Beechcraft and Twin Commander aircraft.
Turboprops registered outside the U.S. were involved in 17 accidents, nine of which were fatal, killing 41 people in the first half. The number of accidents was down from the 20 last year, but again the fatal accidents and number of fatalities were up notably. In the first half of 2012, six non-U.S.-registered turboprops were involved in fatal accidents with 24 resulting fatalities.
As for rotorcraft, U.S.-registered, twin-turbine helicopters were involved in three accidents, two of which were fatal, killing 10 people. The number of accidents was improved from the six in the first half of last year, but only one of those was fatal with six fatalities. Single turboprops, meanwhile, have been involved in 34 accidents this year, 12 of which were fatal with 22 resulting fatalities. This is up 40% from the 23 accidents in the first half of last year. And, the fatal accidents were up fourfold. In the first half of 2012, U.S.-registered single turbine helicopters were involved in three fatal accidents with six fatalities.
Non-U.S.-registered twin helicopters, meanwhile, were involved in 17 accidents, five of which were fatal with 11 fatalities. Again, this marked a worse safety record over the first half of 2012 with nine twin-engine helicopter accidents, three of which were fatal. But those accidents resulted in 20 fatalities.