Tuboprop safety declines as bizav activity picks up

 - August 1, 2010, 8:20 AM

As U.S.-registered business aircraft have begun to fly more hours compared with last year, accidents (at least those involving turboprops) have been on the rise. In the first half of this year compared with  the first six months of last year, the number of turboprop accidents has increased, according to statistics released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based aviation safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates. The segment saw 24 crashes in the first half, up significantly from 14 in the first six months of last year. Of those 24 accidents, three were fatal, resulting in seven deaths. There were also three fatal accidents in last year’s first half, causing 19 deaths (14 of them in the crash of a Pilatus PC-12). Part 135 turboprop operations saw the worst safety erosion, with 14 crashes in the first half, more than triple the number in the same period last year. While the total number of accidents in Part 91 turboprops flown by non-salaried crews remained the same for both years (six), this year there was one more fatal crash and three more casualties than in the same period last year. Public/government users had two nonfatal crashes through June, compared with zero accidents in the first half of last year. 

On the business jet side, the number of accidents  remained static, at five in the first half of this year and last. There were no fatal jet accidents in the first half of last year; in the first six months of this year there was one, the January crash of a cargo-carrying Learjet 35A near Chicago that claimed the lives of the two crewmembers. The Part 91 corporate professionally flown category, which experienced three nonfatal accidents in the first half of last year, saw that total drop to one nonfatal accident in the same period this year. The major fractional jet providers, which had no accidents in 2009, saw that streak end in February when a Challenger 300 was substantially damaged during a de-icing operation.