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Experimental Category Fatals Edge Past FAA Target

October 14, 2014 - Fatal accidents in experimental category aircraft exceeded the FAA’s not-to-exceed figure for the fiscal year 2014, which ended September 30. There were 67 fatal accidents in all types of experimental aircraft, including 50 experimental amateur-built, nine experimental exhibition, six experimental light-sport, one experimental racing, and one experimental research and development category aircraft.

Last year’s harsh winter kept both flying hours and the accident rate very low through February, but the rate of accidents began to rise in the spring, reaching a peak of 13 in June. The pace moderated through the summer and was on pace to equal the FAA’s not-to-exceed goal of 66 fatal accidents. Unfortunately, three fatals on the last weekend of the counting period pushed the total just over that line. 

The annual fatal accident count is a raw number and does not take fleet-wide number of hours flown into account to form a true accident rate (most commonly expressed as incidents per 100,000 flight hours). Activity data for 2014 will not be available until the release of the GA Activity Survey in late 2015. Last year’s total fatal experimental accident count was 55, and the FAA is still waiting for data to transform that number into a usable accident rate.

“When we look at the overall low number of experimental aircraft accidents, it’s important that we do not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about 67 tragic accidents that claimed a total of 86 lives,” said Tom Charpentier, EAA government advocacy specialist.“The number of fatal crashes in general aviation is small compared to the millions of safe flights annually, but it is still the responsibility of everyone involved in our community to ensure that they do everything possible to improve on our safety record.”

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