Business jet fatalities increased again in 2004

 - January 29, 2007, 9:33 AM

There are typically fewer business jet accidents each year than turboprop mishaps and that distinction didn’t change last year. Unchanged also, for the second year in a row, there were no fatal accidents involving Part 91 corporate jets flown by salaried pilots. In fact, professionally flown Part 91 business jets were involved in only one non-fatal accident last year. Also last year no one was killed in accidents involving owner-flown Part 91 jet operations. Additionally, the fractional segment continued its long-standing record of no fatal accidents.

However, while the number of turboprop accidents and fatalities decreased last year over the 2003 figures, jet accidents last year increased, in both the total number of accidents and fatalities, over 2003 totals. All of last year’s fatal jet accidents, killing 16 crewmembers and three passengers, involved Part 135 operators. This is the second consecutive year in which business jet fatalities increased. Last year jet accidents killed 19 people versus 15 in 2003. There were nine fatalities in seven crashes involving jets in 2002.

In spite of the rash of serious turbine business aircraft accidents late last year, there was a slight decrease in the number of accidents and the number of fatalities involving turbine business aircraft, according to Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla. Collectively, 53 people were killed in 19 fatal accidents of turboprops and jets last year compared with 57 killed in 25 fatal accidents in 2003.

FAR Part 135 operators, responsible for all five of the fatal business jet accidents last year (AIN, January, page 1), were hit particularly hard. Interestingly, of the 19 people killed in these crashes, just three were passengers–two in one (EMS) accident, and the third in another accident, a Challenger 601 in Montrose, Colo.
For the second year in a row, corporate jets flown by FAR Part 91 operators suffered no fatal accidents, but there was one nonfatal mishap in this segment last year versus none in 2003. There were also three nonfatal accidents last year involving fractional business jets compared with one in 2003.

Unlike the sterling safety record of its business jet counterpart, the professionally flown Part 91 turboprop segment was marred by a single fatal accident last year–the Hendrick Motorsports King Air 200 (AIN, December 2004, page 3). Two pilots and eight passengers were killed in that crash. In the single fatal accident this segment experienced in 2003, two people died. The number of people killed in air-taxi and owner-flown turboprop accidents decreased year over year.

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