January 21, 2014 - The NTSB's annual Top 10 Most Wanted List of transportation improvements for 2014 contains three major items for aviation safety: hazardous weather awareness, helicopter operations, and cockpit distractions.
The Most Wanted List establishes the board's priorities and typically includes focus items from its areas of responsibility including aviation, highways, maritime operations, pipelines, and rail systems. Last year's list included "improving general aviation safety" as a major item, citing a GA accident rate that was "6 times higher than for small commuter operators and 40 times higher than for transport category operations."
EAA responded to the call by expanding the role of the EAA Safety Committee, enlarging the safety article section in Sport Aviation, furthering development of the Type Club Coalition, and working with its chapters to encourage increased use of technical counselors and flight advisors for E-AB aircraft.
The NTSB noted that a failure to recognize or take appropriate steps to avoid hazardous weather is a "frequent cause or contributing factor" to GA accidents. The board also stated accident investigations and safety studies in all modes of transportation underscore "the dangers of using portable electronic devices while operating a car, train, plane, or marine vessel." Helicopter operations were added to the list due to the "overwhelming growth and demand" for helicopter services.
"Hazardous weather is a perennial causal factor in aviation accidents, and we agree with the NTSB that there is significant work to be done in educating the pilot population in ways to avoid weather-related risks," said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. "We will work closely with our safety committee, safety columnists, and chapter leaders to get the message out about how lack of knowledge and poor decision-making related to weather contribute to what are very often preventable tragedies -and more importantly, how to avoid those tragedies entirely."