The total number of U.S. business aviation accidents in the first nine months of this year remained nearly even with the same period last year, despite an uptick in flight hours, according to statistics released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based industry safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates. In the first three quarters of the year, U.S.-registered business jets and turboprops experienced 34 accidents, five of them fatal, compared with 31 accidents–four of them fatal–in the first nine months of last year.
Through the first three quarters of this year, the business jet category suffered six accidents, including one fatal–the January crash of a cargo-hauling Learjet 35A near Chicago that killed the two-person crew. In the same period last year, the sector suffered six nonfatal accidents. The corporate/executive segment saw a 75-percent decline in the number of accidents this year (from four to one), while the number of accidents among Part 135 and private/business operators doubled, from one each in the first three quarters to two each (including the fatal cargo flight) in the first nine months of this year. The fractional business jet segment experienced one nonfatal accident during the first nine months of the year after seeing none in the same span last year. The number of bizjet incidents rose to 41 for the first nine months of this year from 35 in the first three quarters of last year.
The turboprop segment saw a slight decline in safety as the total number of accidents rose from 25 in the first three quarters of last year to 28 through September of this year, yet those accidents were less costly in terms of human life. Though the number of fatal accidents remained steady at four, last year there were 23 fatalities (14 of which resulted from the crash of a professionally piloted Pilatus PC-12), while there were 12 in the first nine months of this year. Part 135 operations experienced significant erosion in safety, with more than double the number of accidents (including one fatal, resulting in two deaths) in the first nine months of this year than in the same period last year. The corporate/executive category halved its number of accidents year-over-year from six to three and saw one fewer fatal accident, while the private/business category saw its number of accidents decline from 11 in the first three quarters of last year to seven through September this year. The number of fatal accidents in the segment remained the same at two, but the first three quarters of this year had one fewer casualty. The public/government sector experienced two nonfatal crashes during the first nine months of this year compared with none in the same period last year.