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EAA: Fatal experimental aircraft accidents are trending lower

There were 44 fatal accidents in experimental aircraft between October 2019 and September 2020, representing a drop of more than 15 percent from the previous year, EAA said, citing FAA statistics.

“The 44 fatal accidents were eight percent below the FAA’s not-to-exceed number of 48 for Fiscal Year 2020,” EAA said in a news release.

The fatal-accident figures included 32 fatal accidents in the amateur-built aircraft subcategory, for an 18-percent reduction.

“This is outstanding news as far as the continuing trend of lower accident totals in experimental category and amateur-built aircraft, especially as total flight hours increased over the past 12 months,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “The FAA continues to challenge our community by lowering the not-to-exceed number each year and we have met that challenge over the past decade, as we have seen fatal accident totals drop by nearly 40 percent for both experimental and amateur-built aircraft over the past decade.”

To highlight the positive safety trend over time, EAA spotlighted the 73 fatal accidents in the experimental aircraft category in the 12-month period that ended September 30, 2011—of which 51 occurred in amateur-built aircraft.

EAA, which has 240,000 members and 900 local chapters, added that it has worked closely with the FAA and the NTSB on recommendations to reduce fatal accidents, has participated in the safety initiatives of the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, and has sold thousands of copies of the EAA Flight Test Manual to aircraft builders.

EAA also cited “the increasing use of an additional safety pilot during initial flight testing in amateur-built aircraft,” and safety initiatives such as regular safety webinars and its annual Founders Innovation Prize as helping to promote safety in the experimental category aircraft.

“While we are seeing already very small numbers, the continual emphasis on safety for all of us can never be overstated,” Elliott said. “This is a trend that must continue as we pursue ever-higher levels of safety. We must focus on training, safety enhancements, and good pilot skills to complement the ever-improving technology in today’s aircraft cockpits.”

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