In May, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent out a general aviation (GA) safety fact sheet that contained several technologies that the FAA says can help lower the fatal accident rate. The FAA has set a goal of reducing GA fatal accident rate by 10% in 2018, with these technologies, the FAA hopes that their goal is more likely to be achieved. While some inclusions in the list are expected, some are a bit more surprising.
According to the FAA Fact Sheet, 40% of fatal GA accidents involves loss of control, and most of those are mainly stalls. The rest top 10 is as follows:
2. Controlled flight into terrain
3. System component failure-powerplant
4. Low altitude operations
7. Fuel-related issues
8. System component failure-nonpowerplant
9. Midair collisions
10. Wind sheer/thunderstorms
Knowing the cause of the errors is key to reducing them. Doug Carr, Vice President of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), called this “a very data-driven effort.” Currently, there are 1.1 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The 10% reduction we mentioned earlier would drop this to 1 accident per 100,000 flight hours.
So what is included in the FAA’s recommendations? Since the FAA is aiming to lower the current fatal accident rate, most of this involves things that are not in airplanes today. While the FAA isn’t looking for people to run out and buy new planes, they have chosen technology that can be easily retrofitted to airplanes.
The FAA has said that it has streamlined the approval of angle of attack indicators for aircraft. These indicators should give the pilot a visual indication as a stall approaches. With stalls making up such a large portion of fatal accidents, attacking stalls makes sense.
The next recommendation was the addition of seat belt airbags to airplanes. These wouldn’t necessarily help in extremely high impact situations, but this should help save a number of people in some less extreme crashes.
It is interesting to note that the FAA has stated that they want to reduce general aviation accidents through “a primarily non-regulatory, proactive, data-driven strategy to get results.”
An additional recommendation is the support of NextGen. The FAA also touted Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) as a way to raise GA pilots’ awareness of other traffic in ways and areas that radar simply doesn’t do the job.
The FAA also pushed for new technologies like ballistic parachutes and weather in the cockpit to improve safety.
As Flying Magazine noted, some of this technology is likely to be included in the Part 23 regulation rewrite (the regulations that govern aircraft certification). For those worried about costs, the proposed rewrite of the regulations is seeking to enhance security while “slashing certification costs by up to 50 percent.”
We are all for doing what needs to be done to make aviation even safer. We would love to hear your thoughts on this! Have a recommendation? Like a recommendation? Think a regulation is going too far? Let us know in the comments box!