in an effort to improve safety and reduce accidents during summer’s peak flying season, FAA Administrator, Michael Huerta, sent an open letter to general aviation (GA) pilots asking them to be ready – really ready – to fly. Here’s a recap of Huerta’s message, and what the FAA is doing to help improve aircraft safety.
Goal: Reduce fatal accidents
Huerta’s letter is a reaction to the fact that the general aviation fatal accident rate has stayed the same over the past five years, despite the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) efforts to improve safety. Through mid-May 2013, 149 fatal accidents have caused 262 deaths, according to the FAA, and about 40 percent of fatal accidents are due to loss of control as a result of stalls.
In his letter, Huerta wrote, “This summer – this flying season – we need you to make a personal commitment to understand your strengths and limitations, to use a personal minimums checklist, and make sure you are ready each and every time you fly. If we make that commitment, then together we’ll reduce fatal accidents.”
Huerta continued, “We cannot become complacent about safety. Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower.”
FAA’s summer safety tips
Huerta also offered some summer flying tips for general aviation pilots, including:
- Fly with an instructor to brush up on your skills.
- Pay special attention to the weather and be willing to fly another day if conditions are beyond your capabilities.
- Talk with fellow pilots about safety as often as you can to help instill a community-wide safety culture.
- Intervene if you see someone else doing something unsafe.
Three steps to improve safety
The FAA has announced their goal of reducing fatal aviation accidents in the U.S. by 10 percent by 2018. To help achieve this goal, the FAA has been working with aviation groups and manufacturers to develop three steps to improve flying safety.
1. Better reporting and sharing of key data throughout the aviation community. The intent is that this will help identify risks and prevent them from causing fatal accidents.2. Enhance pilot testing and training.
3. Develop a set of design standards to improve the safety of a group of airplanes, and to streamline the certification process for safety technologies to get them into all aircraft much faster.
The focus of the enhanced design standards will be smaller Part 23 airplanes, both new and older aircraft, including piston-powered airplanes and executive jets. The new technology being explored will address stalls, and help prevent pilot error with terrain avoidance equipment.
Call for better technology
In addition to the above steps, the FAA is calling on the aviation community to install life-saving equipment, including angle of attack indicators, inflatable restraints and two-axis autopilots in existing GA airplanes.
The FAA is also overhauling training and testing standards to bring them up to date with current technology while incorporating risk-management and decision-making skills.
For more information on what the FAA is doing to reduce general aviation accidents, read the FAA’s Fact Sheet on General Aviation Safety.
Tango Yankee, LLC is the parent company of Business Aircraft Center and Danbury Aviation, a self- and full-service aircraft and pilot planning center located at Danbury Municipal Airport that includes aircraft management, hangar storage, tie-downs and plane detailing. Tango Yankee, LLC is owned and operated by Santo Silvestro of New Canaan, CT, who is a pilot and aviation enthusiast.