US general aviation accidents are on the rise again following several years of stability, according to Federal Aviation Administration figures.

After years of improvement, US GA safety appeared to hit a "glass floor" in 1999, followed by four years of almost unchanging accident figures. However, so far in 2004 there appears to be the beginnings of an increase in accident figures, compared with same period last year, according to the FAA. The agency says "general aviation fatal accidents are up", and adds that "we are reinvigorating the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, enhancing national safety programs, expediting Safer Skies initiatives for general aviation, improving human factors data, and supporting weather studies".

A report by the FAA's Office of the Chief Scientist for Human Factors has revealed that twice as many general aviation fatal and non-fatal accidents are caused by "skill-based errors", and on this premise research into using training to reduce accidents is being carried out. Yet the FAA says it does not want to have to change basic private pilot licensing regulations to achieve this. The US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA) Air Safety Foundation (ASF) executive director Bruce Landsberg thinks the long-term answer remains training and education, with affordable new cockpit technology that will simplify the piloting task while improving situational awareness.



Source: Flight International