US GENERAL-AVIATION (GA) accidents increased slightly in 1995, causing concern that efforts to improve safety have reached a plateau. The US National Transportation Safety Board says that there were 408 fatal GA accidents in 1995, compared with 402 in 1994.

Safety has been steadily improving since the post-Second World War boom in GA, but the improvement slowed during the early 1990s and reversed in 1995, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Air Safety Foundation (ASF). As recently as 1974, fatal accidents totaled 729. Total GA accidents increased in 1995, to 2,066 from 1,990 in 1994.

"This is a signal to push forward with new efforts, especially in recurrent training and pilot decision-making," says ASF executive director Bruce Landsberg. "Weather and manoeuvring [low-altitude] flight continue to lead fatal-accident causes, while take-off and landing accidents are the largest components of the total accident record," he says.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has lowered its estimate of the hours flown by the 170,000-strong GA fleet in 1995, further worsening the safety trend. An 8.6% reduction over 1994, to 20 million hours, turned the 1.5% increase in fatal accidents to 2.04 per 100,000h.

"This calls for renewed efforts to achieve continued safety improvements," says Landsberg.

Source: Flight International