The US National Transportation Safety Board said it will complete a comprehensive study of experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft this spring.
Launched to evaluate "the safety of this growing and innovative segment of general aviation", the study included analysis of NTSB accident reports over a one-year period as well as input from the US Federal Aviation Administration, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and individual owners and builders.
As part of the study, the NTSB said its investigators conducted in-depth investigations of 222 E-AB aircraft accidents that occurred in 2011. Fifty-four of the accidents resulted in 67 fatalities.
The NTSB said 93% of the E-AB accidents studied involved amateur-built aircraft, with the remaining 4% involving gyroplanes, 2% helicopters and 1% gliders. The accidents occurred in 44 states, with the highest rates in California (18 accidents); Texas (16); and Florida (14). More than half of the E-AB accidents (53%) involved E-AB aircraft that were bought on the used-aircraft market, as opposed to having been built by the owner.
"Through this study, we hope that we'll be able to give the innovators and aviators in the community information about accidents that will result in a real and immediate safety pay-off for them when they are flying these aircraft," said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman.