Business aviation safety off to a poor start in 2010

 - April 30, 2010, 6:39 AM

The recent increase in business aviation flight hours has resulted in an increase in the number of accidents, especially among the turboprop segment, according to statistics compiled by Boca Raton, Fla.-based industry safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates.

This year’s first quarter saw nearly double the number of accidents among U.S-registered turboprops as the same period last year. From January through March there were 15 turboprop accidents–three of them fatal, with a total of seven fatalities–compared with eight crashes in the first three months last year. While that period in 2009 also experienced three fatal accidents that killed 19 people, the total number of fatalities was skewed by the March 22, 2009 crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Montana, which was responsible for 14 of the fatalities during that quarter.

Part 135 turboprops experienced the most severe safety degradation, with the number of accidents rising from two nonfatal crashes in the first part of last year to 10 this year, one of them fatal, killing two people. While the number of accidents in the private/business category dropped from four to three in the first quarter of this year, there was one more fatal accident than last year, increasing the number of casualties from two in the first three months of last year to five so far this year.

The U.S.-registered business jet segment saw just one accident in the first quarter of this year, the January crash of a cargo-hauling Learjet 35A near Chicago, which killed both crewmembers, compared with three nonfatal crashes in the beginning of last year. However, the number of incidents (defined by the FAA as resulting in damage less than substantial to the airframe) nearly doubled year over year, increasing from 12 in the first three months of 2009 to 22 in the same period this year. Breiling’s recently completed annual Business Turbine Aircraft Accident Review is now available. Ordering and pricing information can be obtained from