No U.S. Bizjet Fatalities in 1Q, but Increase Globally

 - April 28, 2011, 3:40 AM

In the first quarter of this year U.S.-registered business turbine aircraft suffered three more accidents and two more fatalities compared with the same period last year. According to AIN research, nine jets and 11 turboprops were involved in accidents in the first quarter compared with four jets and 13 turboprops in the first three months of last year.

There were no fatal business jet accidents in the first quarter of this year compared with one (a Part 135 air-taxi operator on a positioning flight under Part 91) in the first quarter of the previous year that killed two. Turboprops experienced three fatal accidents in each of the two quarters, and the number of fatalities increased from seven last year to 11 this year. All three recent fatal turboprop mishaps occurred under Part 91. Note that one of these fatal turboprop accidents, resulting in four fatalities, involved a U.S.-registered Turbo Goose operating in the United Arab Emirates.

Two incidents occurred on U.S. soil in the first quarter by non-U.S. registered turbine airplanes. Both were runway overruns by Mexican-registered jets: a government-operated Falcon 20 and a medevac Learjet 25. There were no injuries and damage was reported as “minor.”  

Regarding accidents involving non-U.S. registered business aircraft that did not occur on U.S. soil (see box), the first quarter of this year was much deadlier compared with the same period a year ago–two fatalities versus 35 this year. In February 2010, the two pilots were killed when their Citation crashed in Germany (after what investigators initially reported as an attempted barrel roll). But in the first three months of this year, nine people died in two business jet accidents (during non-commercial private flights) and 26 were killed in four turboprop mishaps–one a charter, one a government flight and the other two believed to be non-commercial private operations. 

Our tables show “incidents” as well as “accidents” because the FAA and NTSB draw fine distinctions between the two events, the agencies are not consistent, and the status of the occurrence may change. For example, runway overruns, retracted landing gear and gear-collapse mishaps might be listed as incidents or accidents by the FAA and not tabulated at all by the NTSB. If such an occurrence causes substantial damage, the NTSB could show it as an incident or an accident. When a serious injury or death results, the occurrence appears as an accident in the NTSB database. Other happenings, if they don’t result in serious damage or injury, are usually (but not always) listed as incidents. They include engine shutdowns, bird or other animal strikes, lightning strikes, window separations, doors opening, blown tires, system malfunctions and parts departing an airplane. Additionally, depending on what is found during the ensuing investigation, events initially classified as incidents are sometimes dropped from safety databases entirely. In our tables, some mishaps preliminarily listed as incidents by the FAA or NTSB have been bumped up to the category of accidents because of their more serious nature.