While business aircraft flight hours are down from this time last year, the level of industry safety has improved disproportionately, according to statistics released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based business aviation safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates. In the first half of the year U.S. business jets and turboprops experienced 13 accidents as opposed to 34 during the same period last year, a nearly 62-percent decline in the number of accidents. Fatal accidents declined from 10 in the first six months of last year to three thus far this year, for a 70-percent improvement.
The business jet category suffered no fatalities during the first half of the year as compared with two fatal accidents that caused seven deaths in the same period last year. The total number of bizjet accidents dropped from 11 in the first half of 2008 to four so far this year. The corporate/executive category improved from five accidents, including one fatal, in the first half of last year, to just one nonfatal accident this year. The fractional category had no accidents in the first half of this year, after experiencing one nonfatal crash in the same time frame last year.
The turboprop segment saw a dramatic improvement, with the number of accidents declining from 23 (including eight fatals resulting in 13 deaths) in the opening half of last year to nine in 2009. While those nine accidents included three fatals, which resulted in 18 deaths, the numbers are heavily weighted by the March 22 crash of a Pilatus PC-12, which claimed the lives of 14 people. That accident is included in the totals of professionally flown aircraft because the pilot was employed full-time by the owner/operator. The turboprop commercial/air-taxi category also experienced a significant turnaround, reporting no accidents in 2009 compared with 10 in the first six months of last year. The accident rate for the private/ business segment was reduced by more than half, from 11 in last year’s first half to five so far this year.