The U.S. general aviation (GA) fatal accident rate for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), which ended Sept. 30, decreased to 0.84 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown, down from a rate of 0.89 in FY16 — the fourth consecutive year the rate has fallen, according to a preliminary estimate released recently by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The number of GA fatal accidents and the number of fatalities also declined year-over-year. FAA recorded 209 fatal accidents and 347 fatalities in FY17, compared with 219 accidents and 413 fatalities the previous year.
Since peaking at 1.12 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours in FY11, the GA rate has declined 25 percent through FY17. The number of fatal accidents per year also has been falling, from 278 in FY11 to 209 in FY17, a decline of 24.8 percent.
The leading causes of fatal GA accidents over the past 15 years are loss of control–in fight, controlled flight into terrain and system component failure–powerplant. Fuel-related issues, system component failure–non-powerplant, unintended flight into instrument meteorological conditions and low-altitude operations also are on the list.
FAA said it has begun to see a slight increase in GA flight hours over the past two years, which it attributes partially to strong numbers in the turbine/jet segment of GA.