January 31, 2013 - Last week, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton submitted a letter to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman detailing progress on the NTSB's four recommendations to EAA for improving the safety of homebuilt aircraft.
The NTSB recommendations were part of its May 2012 safety study, The Safety of Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft, and in most cases targeted EAA safety initiatives that were already under way.
With the publication of its list of Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) holders, EAA has already completed one of the recommendations in full. Pelton noted, however, that EAA is working with the FAA to not only expand the availability of quality transition training, but also to develop a protocol by which a second pilot may accompany the pilot in command during Phase I testing.
EAA is also well on its way to accomplishing a second recommendation with the formation of the Type Club Coalition (TCC). The TCC is tasked with creating and promoting training resources and best practices for flight operations with each type of aircraft. The TCC has enjoyed an enthusiastic response, and now encompasses 22 member organizations. The TCC is expected to begin producing written training materials this year.
In response to the NTSB's recommendation that EAA support and promote flight-test training, Pelton outlined plans for an online flight-test course currently in development, as well as efforts to both improve EAA's Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs and explore the possibility of kit manufacturers offering guidance on flight-test procedures. In addition, the letter cites EAA's recently expanded Advocacy and Safety section inSport Aviation, featuring a monthly column by test pilot/astronaut/homebuilder Charlie Precourt.
EAA expressed concern over the cost and liability implications of the recommendation to promote the use of electronic data recording in homebuilt aircraft. Additionally, EAA believes the NTSB may be overestimating the prevalence of instrumentation capable of supporting such data collection in experimental amateur-built aircraft. Nevertheless, Pelton stated that EAA is willing to support the development of standards for electronic data recording in a way that is beneficial and not burdensome to builders.
Finally, Pelton reaffirmed EAA's commitment to GA safety and noted a common goal with the NTSB.
"EAA is deeply committed to continually improving the safety of personal and recreational aviation activities in all forms and particularly that of amateur-built aircraft and their related activities," Pelton said. "We appreciate the respectful and collaborative relationship we share with the National Transportation Safety Board members and staff. We believe that this relationship and our mutual desire for improved safety while fostering and enabling the freedoms of personal flight can lead to meaningful and measurable improvement."