General aviation pilot safety standards have not improved since the European Joint Aviation Authorities introduced more stringent pilot licence revalidation requirements, a UK Civil Aviation Authority study has found. The number of GA accidents in which pilot mistakes or lack of practice played a part has not reduced, according to the CAA research.

In 1999 the JAA introduced the Joint Aviation Requirement for Flight Crew Licensing (JAR-FCL). The CAA report says: "Although, after this, the requirements for obtaining a licence remained relatively unchanged, the revalidation requirements to maintain and exercise the privileges of the licence were significantly amended." Put simply, revalidation and checks were made more frequent and stringent.

Despite this, the CAA study concludes: "The introduction in 1999 of new revalidation requirements contained within JAR-FCL had no significant effect on the number of serious incidents and accidents involving fixed-wing GA single-engined piston aircraft for both private pilots and instructors. It is possible that stringent currency requirements imposed on pilots that hire aircraft from flying clubs and the introduction of the biennial flight with an instructor could have offset any potential increase in occurrences associated with the change in the revalidation requirements."

The report also states that the proportion of all serious incidents and accidents that involved a training-related issue remained significant following the introduction of JAR-FCL (20% before and 21% after). It observes: "Serious incidents and accidents involving a training related issue on GA aircraft primarily involved single-engined piston aeroplanes both pre- and post-JAR-FCL," but that there was insufficient data in the period under study to make valid comparisons for multi-engined GA aircraft.

A comparison involving the effect of the introduction of the CAA's national private pilot licence (NPPL) - which has conditions closer to the original UK pre-JAR FCL PPL and require less training - could not be made since there were no serious incidents or accidents in the dataset where the pilot in command held an NPPL. Holders of NPPLs, however, cannot fly outside UK airspace or at night, whereas pre-JAR PPL holders could do so.

Source: Flight International