Aviation Safety Letter 4-2003

Accident Statistics: Amateur-built, Ultralight Aeroplanes and General Aviation Aircraft

Accident statistics may be thought of as a measure of our ability as pilots to use our skills to conduct safe flights. Flying last year was safe — 3 730 000 hours of flying yielded an occurrence rate of only 26.9 for each 100 000 flying hours. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) publishes yearly statistics on all modes of transportation in Canada, and it was pleased to report a decrease in occurrences for the year 2002. The level of flying activity did decrease by 3 percent, but a 1 percent drop in occurrences overall is significant. Can we do better? Yes, if we as pilots are diligent, serious, healthy, conscientious, intelligent and above all, safety-minded.

A lot of people wonder year to year about the accident rate for small aircraft. Many of them still revel at the thought of piloting their own aircraft, and who can blame them? We live in a world that allows us to leave behind all earthly bonds and enjoy the wonders and beauty of nature from a bird's eye view. I believe that almost everyone recognizes that it is somewhat of an engineering feat to apply and coordinate the multitude of distinct physiological and intellectual abilities to carry out a flight. However, it comes with the profession.

About half of the 139 occurrences involved privately operated aircraft, and of those, 13 were fatal. Flying schools and flying club aircraft are included in this calculation. Canadian-registered Ultralight aircraft accidents totalled 36, and of those, 9 were fatal in which 12 lives were lost.

What is the secret to safe flight? Ask yourself these questions: Could I do better with my flight planning? Am I in a rush each time I go flying? When was the last time I took a refresher course? Am I afraid to be tested by an instructor? Remember, safety is no accident; it must involve careful planning.

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