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NTSB Taps EAA Experience for Amateur-Built Safety Study

EAA hosting comprehensive survey for builders, pilots

July 14, 2011 – EAA is working with the National Transportation Safety Board on a new survey that will create an accurate database to use as programs and activities to further advance and promote safe building and flying practices are considered.

EAA will host the summer-long survey that is open to all builders, owners, and operators of experimental/amateur-built aircraft. The survey can be accessed here, and invitations to participate are being sent via e-mail and postcard. The survey results will be shared with the NTSB.

“Going all the way back to the Wright brothers, amateur aircraft builders have played a crucial and inspirational role in leading the way towards greater achievements in manned flight,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “We are pleased to be working with EAA towards the shared goal of improving safety in this particularly innovative sector of general aviation.”

Of the approximately 224,000 GA aircraft in the U.S., about 33,000 of them are in the amateur-built category. That includes aircraft built from a prefabricated kit, existing plans, or a builder’s unique design.

“Safety is EAA’s top priority, which has been reflected through our members and our organizaton’s activities and programs for nearly 60 years,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. “This survey, however, will help identify any specific areas that could use extra emphasis and education to make amateur-built aircraft even safer.”

The study will look at a range of issue areas, including builder assistance programs, transition training for pilot-builders of E-Abs, flight test and certification requirements, maintenance of E-AB aircraft, and the performance and failures of systems, structures, and powerplants.

“Earlier studies have looked at isolated E-AB safety issues, but this is the first study to comprehensively examine both the building and piloting of these unique aircraft,” said Joseph M. Kolly, director of the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering. “And the direct input from E-AB owners and others involved in the design and day-to-day operations of these aircraft will be of enormous value in understanding all of the aspects that play a role in the safety of experimental flight operations.”

The completed safety study is expected to be published by the fall of 2012.

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