Although data are not yet final, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, is likely to be the safest year on record for general aviation (GA).
The fatal accident rate is declining under a 10-year program that began in 2009, with the goal of reducing fatal GA accidents by 10 percent before the end of fiscal 2018, which began Oct. 1. The FAA said the rate for fiscal 2017 is not yet available but noted that 209 fatal GA accidents were recorded, with 347 associated fatalities.
“We’re pleased with where general aviation safety is headed,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a speech Tuesday to the fifth annual General Aviation Safety Summit. “It looks like 2017 will end up being our safety year yet. Working together with industry to meaningfully address safety is making a difference.”
Huerta said that increased safety will benefit from regulatory, technological and educational efforts, such as changes in Federal Aviation Regulations Part 23, which deals with airworthiness standards; a streamlined approval process for non-required safety-enhancing equipment; and the Fly Safe educational campaign on avoiding loss of control accidents.
He added that, over the next few years, the GA community must move toward the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline for equipping GA aircraft with automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast out (ADS-B Out) avionics systems that transmit data, including aircraft identity, position and speed, from an aircraft to ground stations and to other aircraft that also are equipped with ADS–B.
Fewer than 31,000 GA aircraft now have the required ADS-B equipment, the FAA said. Some 220,000 GA aircraft are registered in the United States.
“We’re just not where we want to be, a little more than two years out from the deadline,” Huerta said. “Moving the needle on this issue is going to require some creativity on all of our parts.”
He noted that the FAA has reviewed proposals on low-cost, easy-to-install ADS-B Out systems and is working with applicants to ensure that the devices meet performance requirements.