Aviation accidents declining, but still working on safety improvements

Aircraft Mishap (Dept. of Interior)

Loss of Control Inflight is #1 cause of fatalities

In 2016, 413 people died in 219 general aviation accidents with Loss of Control (LOC) being the number one cause. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time. There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.

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“The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on FAA.gov, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts – some of which are already reducing risk. I hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.”

According to the FAA, a LOC “accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.”

Aviation accidents contributing factors may include:

  • Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol


Aircraft accident (Dept. of Interior)

The United States has the largest and most diverse general aviation (GA) community in the world, with more than 220,000 aircraft, including amateur-built aircraft, rotorcraft, balloons, and highly sophisticated turbojets. The FAA and industry are focused on reducing general aviation accidents by primarily using a non-regulatory, proactive, data-driven strategy to get results— similar to the strategy the FAA uses in commercial aviation.

Most weather-related GA accidents are fatal, and a failure to recognize deteriorating weather continues to be a frequent cause or contributing factor of accidents. The industry has produced several safety enhancements related to weather as part of their work on loss of control in flight. The 2014 FAA and industry’s Got Weather? national safety outreach campaign reached approximately 4.5 million people. 

Total U.S. Accidents

2001-05 Baseline:       184 accidents, 29 fatal accidents, 55 fatalities
2013:                           146 accidents, 30 fatal accidents, 62 fatalities
2014:                           138 accidents, 21 fatal accidents, 37 fatalities
2015:                           121 accidents, 17 fatal accidents, 28 fatalities
2016:                          108 accidents, 17 fatal accidents, 29 fatalities
(41% decrease in accidents)


U.S. Accident Rate (per 100,000 flight hours)
2001-05 Baseline:      7.97 accident rate, 1.27 fatal accident rate, 2.36 fatality rate
2013:                          4.95 accident rate, 1.02 fatal accident rate, 2.10 fatality rate
2014:                          4.26 accident rate, 0.65 fatal accident rate, 1.14 fatality rate
2015:                          3.67 accident rate, 0.52 fatal accident rate, 0.85 fatality rate
2016:                          3.45 accident rate, 0.54 fatal accident rate, 0.93 fatality rate
(57% decrease in accident rate)


The Top 10 Leading Causes of Fatal General Aviation Accidents 2001-2016:

1.    Loss of Control Inflight
2.    Controlled Flight Into Terrain
3.    System Component Failure – Powerplant
4.    Fuel Related
5.    Unknown or Undetermined
6.    System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
7.    Unintended Flight In IMC
8.    Midair Collisions Low
9.    Low-Altitude Operations
10. Other

Aircraft accident (Dept. of Interior)



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