First half stats show rise in turboprop accidents

 - September 30, 2008, 7:07 AM

The first six months of the year saw fatal accidents among turboprops double from four to eight as the number of deaths increased from 10 to 14, according to statistics released by Boca Raton, Fla.-based industry safety tracker Robert E. Breiling Associates.

Accident rates, fatal accident rates and fatalities at Part 135 turboprop operators more than doubled in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. The number of Part 135 turboprop accidents rose from five in the first half of 2007 to 12 in the first six months of this year, including five that resulted in 11 fatalities.

Part 91 turboprop operators also saw an increase in the overall number of accidents from seven in the first half of last year to 10 this year, but the number of fatalities was halved to three from six. That grim total will unfortunately rise again for the third quarter, after the August 22 crash of a Beech A100 King Air operating under Part 91 in Utah, which claimed the lives of the pilot and all nine passengers.

In contrast, the number of business jet accidents remained the same in the first half of this year as during the first six months of last year. Part 135 jet operations had 10 accidents in the first half of last year, shrinking to four in the first half of this year.
The number of fatal accidents dropped from three in the first half of last year to just one, while the number of fatalities saw a corresponding decrease from 10 in the first half of 2007 to three in the first half of this year. That number was already eclipsed by last month’s crash on takeoff of a Learjet 60 in Columbia S.C., which claimed the lives of the two pilots and two passengers. Two others on board the flight, including rock musician Travis Barker survived with serious burns.

The corporate/executive jet category experienced four accidents in the first half of the year, including one fatal accident in March involving a Cessna Citation I that crashed shortly after takeoff from Oklahoma City. That accident resulted in five fatalities, compared with none in the first six months of last year. The third quarter of this year experienced further deterioration when a Hawker 800 operating under Part 135 crashed in Minnesota on July 31 while apparently attempting a go-around after touching down on a rain-slicked runway. Both pilots and all six passengers aboard were killed.

The major fractional jet providers continued their exemplary level of safety, reporting only one nonfatal accident during the first half of this year.