Fewer accidents, more fatalities in 2007

 - February 6, 2008, 5:18 AM

While the total number of accidents involving business jets and turboprops was down in 2007 compared with the previous year, the accidents were more costly in terms of human life, according to year-end numbers released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based aviation safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates. The totals–which are subject to change pending the issuance of final NTSB accident reports–show an overall decrease in the total number of accidents involving business jets and turboprops from 60 in 2006 to 56 last year.

In the commercial/air-taxi category, however, the number of accidents increased dramatically, from 21 in 2006 to 31 last year, a situation Breiling characterized as serious deterioration. The increased number of accidents was split evenly between jets and turboprops. Part 135 fatalities saw a corresponding increase from 10 in 2006 to 27 last year. Overall, the total number of fatalities rose in 2007 to 53, compared with 38 in 2006. A fatal accident last year involving a Gulfstream II was not included in the total for routine business flights, as it was believed to have been engaged in drug-smuggling activities when it crashed in Mexico.

Some segments in the industry did see improvement. Turboprops operated under Part 91 saw a 25-percent drop in the overall number of accidents from 16 in 2006 to 12 last year, while the number of fatal crashes remained the same at five. Accidents in the corporate/executive jet category last year resulted in no fatalities, an improvement over 2006, when six people were killed. Fractional operators improved on their 2006 performance of two non-fatal accidents, with none reported for the sector last year.