The number of fatalities from U.S.-registered business jet accidents fell three in 2017, from eight in 2016, a drop of 62.5 percent, according to preliminary figures researched by AIN. Nonetheless, as in 2016, there were still two fatal crashes by N-numbered bizjets last year. The four U.S. fatal accidents for both years occurred under Part 91. The two fatal crashes last year occurred in the first five months.
On March 24, 2017 a Cessna Citation 500 being flown under IFR Part 91 by a private pilot, the sole person on board, crashed while being radar vectored for an approach to an airport that was not the flight planned destination. The pilot requested vectoring because his autopilot was not working and he was having steering problems. Controllers lost contact when the airplane was about 15 miles from the airport.
On May 15, a Learjet 35 crashed during the turn for a circling approach. The two pilots were killed on the Part 91 positioning flight from Philadelphia to Teterboro. The aircraft was “less than a mile” from Runway 6 on the ILS approach (in VMC) when it crashed during the right turn for the circling approach to land on Runway 1. At press time, both accidents were still in the preliminary investigation status.
Nonfatal accidents of Part 91 decreased by about 50 percent, Part 135 jets remained unchanged year-over-year, and the one Part 91K nonfatal mishap in 2017 happened when the lead passenger was exiting the aircraft, slipped on the door’s airstair, and broke her ankle.
Fatalities Triple in Non-U.S. Jet Accidents
In sharp contrast to their U.S. counterpart, fatal accidents involving non-U.S.-registered business jets doubled, from two in 2016 to four last year, and the number of fatalities more than tripled, from six to 19. Non-U.S.-registered jets saw two fatal crashes during private operations in each of the comparable years, but in 2017, there were two additional fatal accidents—one under charter and the other a government flight.
On May 17, 2017, a Mexican-registered, privately operated Learjet 25 crashed seconds after takeoff, killing the two pilots. On July 4, 2017, all nine people aboard a Venezuelan-registered Gulfstream GIII perished when the aircraft, on an official state flight, crashed into the sea. Five people lost their lives in another crash into the sea by a Venezuelan-registered privately operated Learjet 25 on Aug. 19, 2017. And on Dec. 14, 2017, three people died in the crash of a chartered Austrian-registered Citation Mustang on an approach in Germany. This was the first fatal accident of a Mustang and just the second serious accident of this model on record.
Accidents of non-N-numbered jets resulting in no fatalities increased last year in all three segments: private, charter and other.
Fatalities from accidents of U.S.-registered business turboprops fell to 20 from 28, year over year, although the number of fatal accidents remained unchanged—nine each in 2016 and 2017. Fatal turboprop accidents under Part 91 increased to seven from four. Fatal crashes under Part 135 decreased by 50 percent—from four to two—and the number of fatalities in air taxi mishaps plunged from 12 to four. Nonfatal accidents of Part 91 turboprops decreased slightly, but Part 135 nonfatal mishaps nearly doubled.
Fatalities from accidents of non-N-numbered business turboprops did not compare well to their U.S. counterpart. There were 12 crashes of non-N-numbered turboprops that were fatal to 58 persons last year compared to eight crashes that took the lives of 27 persons in 2016. Both private and charter operations had more nonfatal accidents as well in 2017 versus 2016.