Data Shows Fewer Fatalities in First Half

 - September 12, 2006, 10:29 AM

Despite a rash of accidents in June involving U.S.-registered turbine business airplanes, there were fewer fatalities in the first six months of this year than in the same period last year, according to safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla. However, the number of fatal accidents involving U.S.-owned business jets increased and those involving business turboprops remained unchanged.

Also, nonfatal accidents involving business jets increased from nine last year to 12 this year, while nonfatal accidents involving turboprops decreased from 16 to four, period over period. Additionally, there have been no fatal accidents involving corporate-flown turboprops since October 2004 (when all 10 occupants were killed in the crash of a Hendrick Motorsports King Air 200, which was the only fatal crash by category that year). But the number of fatal accidents involving air-taxi turboprops doubled, from two to four.

In June alone there were eight turbine airplane accidents–four involved business jets (one a fatal accident) and four involved turboprops (two of which were fatal). On June 2, the two pilots were killed when their Learjet 35A crashed while trying to land at Groton-New London Airport, Conn. The other fatal jet accident in the first half of this year occurred on January 26 when a Citation 560 crashed during an apparent aborted landing at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Calif. All four occupants were killed.

The pilot and a flight mechanic were injured in the June 22 takeoff crash of the prototype Sport-Jet, a single-engine very light jet under development.

One of the nonfatal turboprop accidents in June involved an FAA King Air C90 that ended up on its belly. It seems the landing gear didn’t actually collapse during an attempted touch-and-go at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., on June 23, as initially reported. According to the NTSB, after touchdown and when the pilot flying initiated the takeoff roll, the nonflying pilot inadvertently raised the landing gear instead of the flaps.

Note that for statistical purposes, Breiling classifies as air-taxi accidents those that involve Part 135 operators even if the accident occurs while the operator is conducting a positioning flight under Part 91.