According to preliminary data released from the National Transportation Safety Administration, 2011 saw an increase in U.S. Civil general aviation accidents. Charter, tour, air taxi and medical flights classified as Part 135 operations experienced an increase in airplane accidents, whereas scheduled Part 121 air carriers, or Part 135 scheduled commuter operations, saw a second year of no fatalities.
The “part” designation above does not differentiate the type of aircraft, but the activity performed with the aircraft. For commuter and commercial aviation, the regulations are much more intensive than they are for general aviation, which is what this report addressed. Although the larger commercial airplane accidents seem to make the news more frequently, overall, general aviation accidents account for the greater number of civil aviation accidents.
A good example of these types of accidents includes a story we reported on previously involving a model who filed a personal injury suit after she was severely injured on the tarmac after a sightseeing Christmas lights tour flight.
In 2011, there were 1,550 U.S. civil aviation accidents, up from 1,500 in 2010. The numbers of fatalities also increased to 485 in 2011, from 473 the year before. On-demand Part 135 operations had a total of 50 accidents, up from 31 in 2010, with an increase in fatal accidents from 6 to 16. Actual fatalities increased from 17 to 41. When looking at accident rates per 100,000 flight hours for these same flights, there was a marked increase from 1.00 to 1.50 in 2011.
Last year, there were 28 reported accidents for Part 121 air carriers, while scheduled Part 135 commuter operations reported 4. These latest preliminary figures reverse a downward trend from the previous two years. In 2011 there were a total of 1,466 accidents, up from 1,439 the year before. The number of fatal general aviation accidents decreased from 268 in 2010 to 263 in 2011, and the number of actual fatalities also saw a decrease from 454 to 444 those same years.
Another interesting factor is that, although the number of general aviation flight hours increased in 2011, the overall accident rate per flight hours actually decreased from 6.63 in 2010 to 6.51 in 2011.
Source: Air Traffic Management, “General aviation accidents increased: NTSB,” Aimee Turner, May 1, 2012