2009 Bizav Accidents Decrease as Flight Hours Decline

 - January 27, 2010, 5:27 AM

As flight activity last year declined from that of the previous year–by between 14 and 20 percent–so too did the number of U.S. business aircraft accidents, according to year-end statistics released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based industry safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates. Last year U.S.-registered business jets and turboprops were involved in 44 accidents compared with 64 the previous year, a 31-percent reduction. The number of fatal accidents decreased as well, from 23 in 2008 to eight last year, with a corresponding reduction in fatalities from 58 in 2008 to 32 last year.

In the business jet category, the total number of accidents for U.S.-registered aircraft saw a dramatic decline, from 23 in 2008 to eight last year. The lone fatal 2009 accident in the segment came in December when a U.S.-registered Falcon 20D classified under the commercial/air-taxi category crashed in the Bahamas, killing the two pilots–the only people aboard. In 2008 five fatal accidents involving U.S.-registered business jets killed 20 people. The corporate/executive category, which had five deaths in 2008, suffered no fatalities last year and saw its overall number of accidents halved, from eight to four. The private/business category saw the largest improvement, from seven accidents (two of them fatal) in 2008 to one nonfatal accident last year. The fractional category, which experienced three nonfatal accidents in 2008, had none last year.

In the turboprop segment, the improvement was not as dramatic, as the overall number of accidents declined from 41 in 2008 to 36 last year; however, the number of fatal accidents decreased by more than half, from 18 in 2008 to seven last year. Last year, turboprop accidents resulted in 30 fatalities, nearly half of them in the crash last March of a Pilatus PC-12, compared with 38 people killed in turboprop accidents in 2008.

The number of accidents in the corporate/executive category rose to eight (three of them fatal, resulting in 21 deaths) last year. The previous year there were three crashes–two of them fatal for 11 people. The number of accidents in the commercial/air-taxi segment declined from 14 (four of them fatal) in 2008, to nine nonfatals last year. Private/business operations also experienced improvement. While the number of overall crashes declined slightly, from 23 in 2008 to 18 last year, they were less costly in terms of human life as the number of fatal crashes decreased by 67 percent. The total fatalities in the category declined from 21 in 2008 to nine last year.

Robert E. Breiling Associates publishes The Annual Business Turbine Aircraft Accident Review.