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NTSB Chair Hersman Greets GA Forum Attendees

Message: 'GA Pilots Are Not Learning From ... Deadly Mistakes'

The NTSB opened a two-day forum on GA safety in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning. The forum, titled, "General Aviation Safety: Climbing to the Next Level," was designed to address emerging safety issues in the general aviation (GA) community. The goals of the forum are to raise awareness of the GA accident rate and associated recurring safety issue areas, promote and facilitate dialogue about these issues, and determine how to effectively address these issues to improve the safety of GA operations for the future.

In her opening remarks, NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman said that in spite of the improvements to the commercial and corporate aviation safety records, the GA accident rate has been stubbornly resistant to safety initiatives.

"GA pilots are not learning from the deadly mistakes made by their brethren - not learning from lessons learned in the hardest of ways," she said. "Recreational fliers are the chief pilot of an airline of one. And their most frequent fliers: often their own loved ones. Yet, more than 400 GA pilots and their passengers die each year, including a crash this weekend in Texas that killed three, including a 4-year-old.

"General aviation safety is not just an exercise of our responsibility as the Safety Board. This is personal. Many on our staff are pilots and aviation enthusiasts. And, we know all too well that when accidents happen, the consequences can be deadly. Just a few weeks ago, we lost one of our own, Dr. Mike Duncan, the NTSB's chief medical officer, in a general aviation accident.

"The status quo is not acceptable. We need to break through the plateau and bring the accident rate down significantly."

Hersman cited statistics showing that over the past 10 years, the number of general aviation accidents has averaged more than 1,500 a year, or more than four accidents every day. She said that while general aviation accounted for 51 percent of the estimated total flight time of all U.S. civil aviation in 2010, it accounted for 97 percent of fatal accidents.

"It's peak summer flying season. Now is the right time for a renewed effort to bring down the number of general aviation accidents - and general aviation deaths," Hersman said.

The Forum continues Wednesday at the NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C. (NTSB Photo)

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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