U.S. Business Aircraft Safety Record Declines
Kerry Lynch – January 9th, 2012
U.S. fixed-wing business aircraft operators posted a slightly worse safety record in 2011, with the increase in accidents appearing to exceed the slight increase in operations, according to the latest information released by safety expert Robert E. Breiling Associates. At the same time, however, accidents involving U.S. twin-turbine helicopter operations were less than half the number in 2010.
U.S.-registered business jets and turboprop operations combined for 57 accidents – 13 of which were fatal – in 2011. This is up from the 48 accidents (including seven fatal) in 2010.
The accidents climbed as flight operations have been up in 2011. FAA’s latest statistics show business aircraft flight operations have increased 3.95% from December 2010-November 2011 over the same time period a year earlier.
The number of accidents involving business jets climbed from 10 in 2010 to 13 last year. Part 135 operations accounted for seven of the accidents, while five of the accidents were corporate flown, and one was a private or business (nonprofessionally flown) operation, Breiling says. But, while there was a single fatal business jet accident in 2010, there were none in 2011. The Breiling report does not include the April 2011 fatal crash of a Gulfstream G650 since it was an experimental flight rather than a business operation.
Turboprop Accidents Up
The business turboprop fleet, meanwhile, was involved in 44 accidents, compared with 38 in 2010. The number of fatal business turboprop accidents more than doubled from six in 2010 to 13 last year.
Nonprofessionally flown turboprop operations accounted for half of the fleet accidents – 22. Part 135 operations were involved in 15 turboprop accidents, and five were corporate operations.
Three Socata TBM-700s flown nonprofessionally were involved in fatal accidents that resulted in seven fatalities. Other fatal business aircraft accidents involved a Piper PA-46, Cessna 441, Cessna 206, two de Havilland DHC-6s, a DHC-3, a Grumman Turboprop Goose and an AC-690 Commander.
For business helicopter operations, however, the safety record improved. U.S. twin-turbine helicopters were involved in five accidents, none of which were fatal, in 2011. This compares with 12 accidents, including four that were fatal, in 2010. U.S. single-turbine helicopters in 2011 matched the number of accidents in 2010 – 48. But the number of fatal accidents declined from 11 last year to nine.
The twin-turbine helicopter accidents were distributed among external load, emergency medical, training, corporate/executive and charter operations (one apiece).
In the single-helicopter market, emergency medical services (EMS) improved, going from eight accidents in 2010 to two last year. Likewise, EMS fatal accidents dropped from five in 2010 to two last year.
However, accidents increased for single-turboprops involved in offshore, training, private, public and sightseeing operations.
Robert E. Breiling Associates is compiling a detailed review of accident information. That review is expected to be completed shortly.