an observation about a dramatic reduction in fatal accidents a week ago
while updating the Cirrus accident statistics for the upcoming COPA Pilot Proficiency Program (CPPP) events,
Here's a chart of the number of fatal Cirrus accidents and CAPS saves
by quarter since the introduction of the SR20 in mid-1999. Fatal
accidents in red, with darker bars for winter months and lighter bars
for summer months, and green bars for CAPS parachute saves.
What I noted was that in the most recent 9 months, there had been
only 1 fatal accident per quarter. Prior to that, in the past 36 months
there were 39 fatal accidents. So at the end of 2010Q3, the frequency
of fatal accidents dropped from 1 a month to 1 every three months.
Were we flying so much less? Hard to substantiate a 33% reduction in
flying hours, since Cirrus Aircraft reports increased activity through
their warranty and SB updates of Hobbs meter data.
When I calculate the rate of fatal Cirrus accidents per 100,000
flight hours using the Cirrus data, the rate was 1.60 at the end of
2010Q3 and dropped to 1.05 at the end of 2011Q1. Wow. Recall that the
non-commercial fixed wing rate in 2009 went up to 1.30 (source: 2010 Nall Report)
What else happened in August/September 2010?
My hypothesis: the August 2010 distribution of the Safety Alert on landings by Cirrus Aircraft and COPA to all owner/operators of Cirrus aircraft.
That letter was unique in that it recommended three actions: 1. Pay attention to the proper procedures for landings and slow flight 2. Conduct a recurrency flight with a training partner 3. Use the brief landing standardization syllabus
The letter was supported by discussions on the COPA forum, by
requirements imposed by some insurance carriers, but most importantly,
by the Cirrus Training Network.
In my view, the combination of a relevant and timely issue, a set of
recommended procedures, a training syllabus, and a training network
contributed to a dramatic drop in the number of fatal accidents.
As further evidence for my hypothesis that these communications about
training and reflecting on our proficiency are effective, I note an
earlier safety letter about icing from Alan Klapmeier and Mike Radomsky
issued in October 2006. Since then, there has not been a fatal Cirrus
accident where the NTSB probable cause reports list icing as a cause,
and three CAPS saves involving icing. No fatal icing accidents in 4-1/2
years! (Although perhaps two fatal accidents since then involve winter
weather where icing may have been a factor.)
My personal belief is that the emphasis on training resources and
communication with owner/operators has demonstrated an effect on
reducing the number of fatal accidents.
I have never performed a stall in a turn. Time to get with it I guess. Always seemed unrealistic that the PTS required power on/off stalls to be done straight ahead.
This is very encouraging numbers and reflects the emphasis on making safer pilots. Having a plane that has so much built in safety features won't make a difference unless pilots are trained to use the equipment properly.
Thanks for the information and analysis.
This is truly a good news story. Rick, no doubt your work in the safety/education arena is helping. Appreciate your hard work and reporting.
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