Three international industry associations are surveying operators in an effort to assemble meaningful statistical data on the European general aviation industry that can be used to more accurately assess and drive safety. The survey—available in English, French, and German—is designed to develop a central data source that can provide a more accurate picture of general aviation operators, operations, and aircraft.
This, in turn, will provide a more accurate measurement of accidents. Right now, such a central source does not exist in Europe, said Kyle Martin, director of regulatory affairs for Europe for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). “We are blind as to the level of safety in Europe.”
GAMA is working in partnership with the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association-Europe (IAOPA-Europe) and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) to survey operators in 32 European countries. The organizations based the survey on the U.S. FAA’s general aviation operations survey and have been working with operators and local flying clubs to get the word out. These groups are running the survey through the end of this month and hope to have the results ready for release at Aero Friedrichshafen in April.
IAOPA previously conducted a general aviation survey in 2014, obtaining responses from about 1,500 operators and 3,500 pilots. But that data is now outdated and organizers are hoping to gain an even more extensive picture. The European Aviation Safety Agency in past has urged individual member states to develop and share this information, but that has proved unsuccessful.
Industry organizers hope that the data they plan to accrue, which will be de-identified, will help build a statistical foundation and encourage further cooperation in the future.
“The problem in Europe…is each country has its own registry,” Martin said. “There is no single European central database for the number of aircraft registered to fly in Europe, the number of pilots or licenses, the types of licenses or aircraft, or the number of hours.” Some countries, such as Germany and the UK, have better statistics than others.
Without an accurate number of hours of general aviation flying today, Martin said, “We cannot tell you with any certainty whether or not people are flying more this year or less. We cannot tell you whether GA is getting safer or less safe because we don’t have that crucial data.”
While instrument flight data is available, the number of instrument pilots in Europe is believed to be much lower than the 70 percent in the U.S. Further, there isn’t a clear picture of how aircraft are equipped.
Details such as how many pilots have instrument ratings or how aircraft are equipped will help safety experts zero in not only on accident records but factors playing into them, Martin added.