This year is shaping up to be bad for business jet fatal accidents, according to safety figures compiled by AIN. In just the first five months, 24 people have died in five fatal business jet accidents worldwide. In total last year, there were 23 deaths from eight business jet accidents. To date, U.S.-registered business jets were involved in three accidents, resulting in 12 fatalities–including Saturday’s Gulfstream IV-SP crash near Boston that killed seven. In all of last year, six U.S.-registered business jet fatal accidents killed 17 people.
Aviation accidents and incidents
NTSB investigators are probing the May 31 fatal crash of a Gulfstream IV at Bedford-Hanscom Field Airport in Massachusetts. According to NTSB senior investigator Luke Schiada, the U.S.-registered aircraft (N121JM) crashed into a gully in a wooded area about 2,000 feet beyond the end of Hanscom’s Runway 11. It exploded and became engulfed in flames. All seven people on board–two pilots, a flight attendant and four passengers–were killed. An eyewitness told NTSB officials that the GIV, which was departing for Atlantic City, N.J., never got off the ground.
As part of its ongoing mission to reduce accidents, the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) analyzed, by state, data from U.S. civil helicopter accidents that occurred between 2008 and 2013.
The Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) labeled an American Airlines flight crew’s reduced situational awareness as the primary cause of the December 2009 runway excursion by a Boeing 737-800 at Kingston Airport. The aircraft departed Miami carrying 148 passengers and a crew of six, and all occupants survived the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board on May 13 released the findings of its Special Investigation Report on the safety of agricultural aircraft operations, which can involve flying as low as 10 feet above the ground. That kind of flying presents risks from ground-based obstacles with scant room for error.
NTSB and FAA investigators are initially crediting the traffic alert and collision avoidance system (Tcas) with preventing an April 25 midair between United Airlines and US Airways Boeing 757s while both airliners were under the control of Honolulu ATC center. Both aircraft were flying at FL300 when the Tcas aboard the United aircraft warned the crew to descend. The aircraft reportedly came within 2.2 nm laterally of one another.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff signed a new law last week that more clearly prioritizes the aviation accident investigation process. First proposed after the Congressional investigation of the 2006 Gol/Legacy Amazon midair, Law 12970/2014 establishes mechanisms to protect information sources, especially voluntary testimony, from court use (though cockpit recordings can be used); makes airlines or owners responsible for wreckage and its removal; and clarifies investigative responsibilities.
Accidents and incidents involving business jet operations in Europe fell dramatically last year compared to 2012. According to data gathered by AIN, there were five total mishaps last year versus nine in 2012. Three accidents caused 10 fatalities in 2012 whereas there was one fatal crash last year that killed two persons. Additionally, there had been no accidents or major incidents involving business jets in Europe as of late April this year.
The NTSB has scheduled a May 13 meeting with agricultural industry leaders and federal regulators to discuss its special investigation report on the safety of agricultural aircraft operations. The Board will announce several new safety recommendations being issued to the FAA and the National Agricultural Aviation Research & Education Foundation. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. EST at NTSB headquarters inWashington, D.C.
Ellen Saracini, widow of United Airlines Flight 175 captain Victor Saracini, has not relented in her attempts to see secondary security barriers installed on all airliners while also trying to ensure the barrier equipment already installed on some transport aircraft is not removed.