Small plane crash fatality rate tripled in 2012
A study from the Dutch Safety Board shows a spike in the number of serious incidents and accidents in the general aviation branch in 2012. The rise is alarming, since it may indicate an increased threat to the safety of air passengers.
General aviation involves gliders and aircrafts with one or two piston engines or with a turboprop engine in civil aviation and a maximum take-off mass of 5,670 kg.
Based on these requirements the group basically covers recreational, commercial, and social flights, including police and inspection flights.
In the period of 2005-2011, the number of accidents remained fairly stable with an average of 11 accidents and 10 serious accidents. However, in 2012 those numbers went up to 22 accidents and 17 serious accidents.
It is a fact that the safety risk for general aviation is higher than for any other means of transportation. However, it went up from 0.4 fatal accidents and 2.6 accidents per 100,000 flights over the previous period to 1.2 fatal accidents and 4.3 accidents per 100,000 flights in 2012.
These occurrences can be caused by technical problems, but most have to do with factors related to the pilot. Analysis of the statistics have not yielded any explanation for the increase in occurrences in 2012. Statistics did show however, an increase in the number of reported near-collisions, collisions, and 'emergency and precautionary landings following engine trouble.'
The European Union is putting in an effort to manage the skills and risk perception of pilots, by way of the pilot's exam, the minimum experience needed for ratings in pilot licenses to be extended, and a system of training requirements.
In addition, the general aviation branch will need to be more aware of its own responsibility to guarantee aviation safety.