Turbine airplane fatalities fall

 - May 16, 2008, 5:17 AM

In the first quarter of this year, the U.S.-registered Part 91 and 135 business jet and turboprop fleet experienced 22 total accidents, five of which killed a total of 15 people, according to safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla. This is just a slight reduction in total and fatal accidents, but a significant decrease in fatalities, compared with the same period last year, when there were 23 total accidents, seven fatal accidents and 45 fatalities.

Jets were involved in six total accidents, one of which killed five people, in the first quarter, compared with 12 total accidents, two fatal accidents and 20 fatalities in the first quarter a year ago. Eighteen people were killed in one jet accident alone on March 29 last year–a Part 135 Gulfstream III on approach to Aspen (Colo.) Airport.

Turboprops were involved in 16 total accidents, four of which killed 10 people in the first quarter vs 11 total accidents, five fatal crashes and 25 people killed in the same period last year.

There were no fatal crashes involving Part 91 jets or turboprops flown by career crews in the first quarter of last year, but there was one this year–the crash of a U.S.-registered Challenger in England, killing five people.

Fractional operations continue to amass an enviable safety record, according to Breiling’s figures. There was just one reportable accident in the first quarter of this year (a Flight Options MU-300 was substantially damaged during a runway overrun on February 10), compared with just one incident in the first three months of last year. (Breiling’s 2001 jet and turboprop accidents review is now available.)

In its recently released aviation accident statistics for last year, the NTSB reported that despite fewer accidents last year (1,721 compared with 1,838 in 2000), the accident rate (the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours) increased slightly from 6.33 in 2000 to 6.56 last year. General aviation was the only category of air transportation to report an increase in its accident rate, said the Safety Board, “which is attributable to the fact that fewer hours were flown by general aviation aircraft last year than in 2000.” The NTSB also didn’t break down general aviation’s accident statistics into its various segments.

For on-demand air taxis, the NTSB said the accident rate decreased from 2.28 in 2000 to 2.12 last year.

As previously reported, Breiling’s figures show business jets suffered 19 total accidents and 25 fatalities last year vs 13 accidents and 15 killed in 2000. Forty-seven people were killed in 16 accidents last year involving business turboprops, compared with 41 fatalities in 11 accidents in 2000 (AIN, February, page 8).