In addition to much healthier sales, GAMA had some other good news to share with attendees at its annual industry review and outlook meeting. Despite the high-profile accidents at the end of last year, the NTSB’s preliminary statistics on the number of general aviation accidents last year show a decline of about 8.7 percent. Fatal accidents were down 11.6 percent.
“This makes last year the best year for general aviation safety in the post-World War II era,” said GAMA chairman James Schuster. “However, it is critical that industry and government continue to work together to reduce the number of general aviation accidents even more.”
During a question-and-answer session, he said that while safety remains the highest priority, “We do not react to the accident du jour.” Instead, the chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft noted that efforts to improve GA safety are continuing industry-wide but are data-driven and not knee-jerk reactions to the latest accidents. “We want to dedicate our scarce resources to the places that they will do the most to promote safety,” he added.
Asked if the recent accidents could have a bearing on purchasing decisions, Schuster said, “Notwithstanding the spectacular nature of some of the accidents, particularly late last year, the data would indicate that the safety record is actually improving.” He admitted it would be difficult for anyone to isolate whether any buyer made a purchase decision based on safety perceptions.
The Raytheon Aircraft boss said that the GA market is strong and people recognize the benefits of general aviation as a form of transportation. They also realize that it is among the most responsible, self-policing industries, he added.