As the year comes to a close, the FAA has said that 2017 is looking like one of the safest years yet for general aviation. Obviously the numbers aren’t final, but early estimates—discussed at the FAA-hosted Fifth General Aviation Safety Summit on October 24—have the rate for fatal accidents at just 0.84 per 100,000 flight hours this year. As long as the trend continues through the next two months, that will be the lowest on record. The fatal accident rate has been decreasing steadily every year since 2013 (1.11 per 100,000 hours).
It’s not just GA either. For the eighth year in a row, US airlines had no crashes. In fact, there hasn’t been a mishap since the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Q400 turboprop near Buffalo, New York that killed 50 (including one person on the ground). The current record safety streak is attributed to better training, oversight of that training, more standardized regular checks and FAA/industry cooperation in ongoing safety programs.
The General Aviation Safety Summit is an annual meeting of government and industry partners, which focuses on GA safety issues, progress and future goals. In his remarks at the summit, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta pointed out that though the target rate of one fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours or less has been reached, there is always progress to be made. “It’s an issue that needs to be approached from many angles – some regulatory, some technological, some educational,” Huerta said, “…And as long as general aviation accidents keep occurring, we must stay vigilant and keep finding new ways to advance our shared safety mission.”