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E-AB Fatal Accident Rate Holds Steady in 2011

Overall experimental rate still close to exceeding FAA goal

By Fareed Guyot, Manager – Electronic Publications, EAA 388642

Accident dashboard
The E-AB dashboard shows the FAA’s target yearly fatal accident target rate for the experimental category, the actual rate, and the E-AB rate for the year which is not track separately by the FAA.

September 15, 2011 – The number of fatal accidents in experimental amateur-built aircraft continues to decline. From 67 in 2009 to a significant drop to 47 in 2010, the number is at 45 so far this year with two weeks to go. (The FAA tracks accidents by fiscal year which, for 2011, ends this month.) However, the agency does not separate fatal E-AB accidents from the overall numbers for the experimental category, currently at 67, and is in danger of crossing over the FAA’s not-to-exceed level of 70.

“We are encouraged that the overall number of fatal experimental category accidents is below 70,” said EAA Government Advocacy Specialist David Oord. “But the number of E-AB fatal accidents continues to decline and EAA feels that the FAA should track this as a separate metric. The subcategories that make up the experimental fleet (amateur-built, exhibition, light-sport, racing, market survey) have very different operational characteristics and risk profiles. By creating one metric for all, it doesn’t take into account those differences.”

Oord said that while the rate of fatal E-AB accidents is dropping, pilots and builders have a responsibility to help lower this rate through increased training and awareness. The EAA Flight Advisor program, transition training, and type clubs have been identified by the EAA and FAA as positive methods to improve safety in the experimental fleet.

Additionally, regulatory changes by the FAA allow E-AB aircraft to be used for compensated training if the owner of the aircraft obtains a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) from the FAA. This allows pilots to seek transition training for an E-AB aircraft they are building before their project is completed. Builders can still receive instruction in their own aircraft without a LODA if the aircraft is out of Phase I testing.

EAA continues to push for the separate E-AB accident metrics through the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee.  

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