The first three months of this year saw a significant increase in fatalities involving business jets and turboprops compared with the same period last year, according to figures compiled by safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla. In the first quarter of this year, the U.S.-registered fleet of turbine-powered business airplanes experienced 22 accidents, including five fatal ones that killed 24 passengers and crew.
Overall, the 22 accidents in the first quarter totaled out at just one more than in the same period last year. However, the number of fatalities doubled–from 12 to 24. Business jet accidents doubled from five in the first quarter of last year to 10 in the first quarter of this year. While there were no fatal accidents involving business jets from January through March last year (as well as in 2003), eight people were killed in one Part 91 accident during the same period this year (in the February 16 crash of a Circuit City Citation at Pueblo Municipal Airport, Colo.).
Despite the rash of serious accidents in the final months of last year involving Part 135 business jets, there were no fatal accidents involving jet air-taxi operators in the first quarter of this year or during the same period last year. However, charter jet operators were involved in three nonfatal accidents compared with five during the first three months of last year.
There were also two nonfatal accidents involving private business jets flown by owners or non-salaried pilots compared with none during last year’s first quarter.
Business turboprop operations fared no better than their jet counterparts. Although there were fewer accidents involving turboprops in the first quarter of this year, according to Breiling, there were more fatalities: 16 people were killed in the first quarter of this year versus 12 in the first quarter last year. In addition, there was one nonfatal accident involving a Part 91 corporate turboprop compared with none in the same period last year.
Although the total number of accidents involving turboprop air-taxi operations fell by half (from eight to four), the number of people killed (five) remained the same for both periods. By far, the worst fatality statistic for turboprops in the first quarter was compiled by principally owner-flown propjets. Eleven people were killed in the first quarter of this year versus seven people in the three fatal crashes in the first three months of last year.
Meanwhile, Breiling has completed its 2004 Business Turbine Aircraft Accident review, a compilation of data about 380 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft accidents last year worldwide. The complete review costs $325; jets and turboprops only, $280; and turbine helicopters only, $200. Contact Breiling at (561) 338-6900; fax (561) 393-9127; or e-mail email@example.com.