Business aviation accidents, fatalities rise in first half

 - October 4, 2006, 4:39 AM

According to safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla., in the first six months of this year the U.S. business jet and turboprop fleet experienced 33 accidents, one more than during the same period last year. While the number of fatal accidents remained at nine each year, fatalities more than doubled from 16 in the first half of last year to 36 this year.

Business jets were involved in 11 nonfatal accidents and one fatal accident in the first half of this year versus eight nonfatal accidents in the first six months of last year, Breiling said. Part 91 operators–corporate and business operators combined–were responsible for nine of the 12 accidents (11 nonfatal, one fatal), compared with only three last year. The fatal accident killed two crewmembers and six passengers when a Cessna Citation 560 owned by Circuit City Stores crashed while on an ILS approach to Runway 26R at Pueblo Memorial Airport, Colo., on February 16. The remaining three nonfatal accidents involved Part 135 charter/air-taxi operators.

In the first six months of the year business turboprops suffered 21 accidents (13 nonfatal, eight fatal), which was not as high as the 24 accidents (15 nonfatal, nine fatal) recorded in the first half of last year. However, Breiling data shows that fatalities climbed from 16 last year to 28 this year.

Part 91 operators were involved in 17 of this year’s 21 turboprop accidents, including six fatal accidents that killed 23. According to Breiling, this is a marked increase over the 10 accidents–three of which were fatal, killing seven–that Part 91 operators experienced in the first half of last year.

Part 135 operators were responsible for four of the turboprop accidents (two fatal that killed five total) in the first six months of this year. This is much fewer than the 14 turboprop accidents (including six fatal accidents that killed nine) Part 135 operators logged in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Breiling said fractional operators did not encounter any accidents during the first six months of this or last year. Although these operators continually have high annual aircraft utilization rates, no fractional provider has ever experienced a fatal accident. The public/government and manufacturer/other categories also did not record any accidents during either period.