The number of fatalities in turbine business airplane accidents increased nearly 80 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to statistics compiled by safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla.
Aviation accidents and incidents
The NTSB recently concluded its investigations into two King Air fatal accidents, attributing the probable causes to the pilots. IMC was a factor in both accidents. On Jan. 31, 2004, the pilot and his teenage son were killed when their C90 broke up in flight and crashed into the Everglades about 10 minutes after departing Florida Keys Airport.
The recently released NTSB preliminary report on the February 2 crash of a Bombardier Challenger 600 at New Jersey’s Teterboro (TEB) Airport was all too brief, considering the stir the spectacular, though nonfatal, accident caused in the national media. On takeoff, Challenger N370V not only slid off the end of Runway 6 but went through the airport fence and hurtled across busy six-lane U.S.
The NTSB has asked the FAA to limit the number of times a pilot can fail a checkride and questioned whether the existing requirements of providing additional training after multiple failures is adequate. Additionally, the Safety Board wants the FAA to require Part 121 and 135 operators to improve their safety background checks of pilot applicants by obtaining all notices of failed checkrides before making a hiring decision.
The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) is scheduled to announce a “human factors tool kit” project at its European Aviation Safety Seminar this month in Warsaw, Poland. The project aims to reduce human error, a causal factor in more than 85 percent of aviation accidents and incidents.
In addition to much healthier sales, GAMA had some other good news to share with attendees at its annual industry review and outlook meeting. Despite the high-profile accidents at the end of last year, the NTSB’s preliminary statistics on the number of general aviation accidents last year show a decline of about 8.7 percent. Fatal accidents were down 11.6 percent.
A meeting late last month between the FAA’s top regulatory officials and business aviation interests will likely result in renewed emphasis on new and existing aviation safety programs rather than any sweeping regulatory changes. The meeting came in the aftermath of six fatal turbine business aircraft accidents since late October.
While the NTSB determined that “unnecessary and too aggressive” rudder inputs by the first officer broke the vertical stabilizer off American Airlines Flight 587, there was plenty of blame to spread among the airline, U.S. and French aviation regulators and Airbus Industrie, builder of the A300-605R that crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001.
Though unconfirmed by DHL, an unofficial collection of photos and text circulating on the Internet sheds chilling light on the November 22 missile attack at Baghdad International Airport. The Brussels, Belgium-based DHL Airbus A300B4-200 freighter, bound for Bahrain, was hit after takeoff and made a successful emergency landing back at the Baghdad airport with no injury to the three-man Belgian/UK crew.
With the notable exception of professionally flown corporate jet operations, which had no accidents, business turboprops and jets posted more accidents and fatalities last year than in 2002 (71 versus 64 total accidents and 60 versus 51 fatalities), according to statistics compiled by Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla.