Fatal accidents on amateur-built aircraft rose slightly last year but remained below historical averages.
For the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, the FAA reported 56 fatal accidents involving experimental class aircraft in the past 12 months, 39 of which occurred in amateur-built aircraft.
That compares with a total of 42 accidents in the 12-month period from October 2020 to September 2021, 33 of which occurred on amateur-built aircraft.
“Whether it’s a hobbyist-built aircraft or an experimental aircraft, overall, the total number of fatal accidents is still 30% to 35% lower than it was a decade ago, including looking at the three-year rolling period on which the FAA’s annual statistics are based. When it comes to averages — more than numbers,” said Sean Elliott, vice president of advocacy and safety for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
“While this is good news, we never want to see the total grow every year,” he continued. “It’s a reminder that we all have to keep working hard and putting safety first, even with the low numbers we see every year.”
During the same 12-month period, the higher accident total for experimental class aircraft reflected an increase in all general aviation accidents, according to EAA officials. It also fits with preliminary data showing an increase in flying hours in 2021 and 2022, they said.
“EAA has been deeply involved with the FAA’s safety analysis team over the years, and we’ve consistently seen experimental aircraft accident causes that are very similar to all GA accident causes,” Elliott said. “This shows that the vast majority of accidents occur not because pilots are flying amateur-built or experimental aircraft, but because of factors related to pilot decisions or flight procedures. These are areas where EAA safety programs and resources can make a difference .”
EAA works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in efforts to reduce fatal accidents, such as distributing thousands of copies of the EAA flight test manual to owners of amateur-built aircraft and making recommendations, such as in the U.S. Amateur-built aircraft with additional safety pilots added during initial flight testing. Other safety initiatives, including regular safety webinars, have also focused on the safety of the experimental class of aircraft, EAA officials said.