A story from EAA, Experimental Fatal Accidents Fall Dramatically in 2013, prompted me to analyze the difference in general aviation in general and Cirrus models in particular.

The key numbers in the EAA article are a 25% drop in fatal accidents in experimental aircraft from FY2012 to FY2013, time periods that correspond to the FAA and NTSB fiscal year from October 1 to September 30. They note that included in that are a 30% drop in amateur built experimental aircraft in the same time period.

Good progress, eh?!  Well done, EAA members and the experimental aircraft community.

Now I was curious if there was a similar drop in GA or Cirrus fatal accident rates.

Of course, we have documented a substantial drop in Cirrus fatal accidents in the past year, so I was initially fascinated and concerned that maybe our improvement was nothing more than good vibes throughout general aviation.

I shouldn't have worried. What an interesting comparison.

Using the NTSB database, you can't easily filter for experimental aircraft, but you can filter for amateur built aircraft and make/model of Cirrus aircraft. When I checked, some of the NTSB investigations have miscoded aircraft without the amateur built category. Consequently, I trust the EAA analysis. But my numbers don't seem to be too far off from the EAA analysis.

Here's what I found:

  • fatal accidents in all of general aviation dropped 14% from 221 to 189 between FY2012 and FY2013
  • amateur built fatal accidents (as coded by the NTSB investigators) dropped 35% from 48 to 31
  • Cirrus fatal accidents (as included in the NTSB database) dropped 69% from 16 to 5
  • Cirrus fatal accidents (as recorded by COPA and Cirrus Aircraft) dropped 59% from 17 to 7

Note that the Cirrus accidents in the NTSB database omit one from FY2012 (Tiros, Brazil) and two from FY2013 (South Africa and the most recent accident in Bolingbroke, IL). 

In pictures* . . .

What does this mean to you?

Clearly, the amateur built category was subject to a massive communication blitz about improving their safety record. The NTSB did a special study. EAA increased coverage of safety initiatives in their magazine. EAA also championed changes in the way flight testing was conducted. A focus on safety seemed to help them.

And in the Cirrus community, more than a 50% drop in fatal accidents is pretty amazing, eh?!

IMHO, this is the culmination of several factors at once -- Cirrus Aircraft increasing focus on safety instruction with CSIP and Cirrus Training Centers, COPA initiatives like Consider CAPS and revitalizing our safety initiatives for CPPP and CDM, as well as public media attention to parachute saves -- oh, it works!

Now the challenge is to see if these amazing results persist over time . . .



p.s. COPA members may discuss this topic here: Cirrus fatal accident rates drop more than GA or amateur built

p.p.s. *Figures have been updated thanks to improvements suggested by John Ylinen.