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Aviation Accidents Resulted in 393 Deaths Last Year: NTSB

A new report by federal transportation officials warns that civil aviation deaths increased by more than 10% last year, with an average of at least one fatality per day, nearly all involving small, private airplanes, not large commercial airliners.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a new report on November 14, indicating that there were at least 393 deaths linked to aviation accidents in 2018, highlighting the need for increased flight operation safety measures.

The aviation deaths in 2018 represent an increase over the 347 fatalities recorded in 2017, raising the rate of fatal accidents to 1.029 deaths per 100,000 flight hours, compared to a rate of 0.935 in 2017.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that, on average, there are approximately three small plane crashes per day in the U.S. alone, causing an average of one fatality per day.

NTSB researchers noted that “on-demand” operations, which include charters, air taxis and air tours, claimed 12 lives, which is a slight decrease from 16 since 2017. In addition. there was only one fatality involving a commercial airline, when a Southwest passenger was killed in connection with a plane engine failure.

“It is disappointing to see the fatal general aviation accident rate increase after two years with the rate below 1.0 per 100,000 flight hours,” according to NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Aviators in both the general aviation and [on-demand] communities need to renew their emphasis on building and sustaining a safety culture, and recipients of our safety recommendations in this area need to implement those life-saving recommendations.”

Officials did not provide any specific reasons for the increase in aviation fatalities. However, they have stated they are committed to addressing and highlighting safety issues as they arise. Aviation and transportation agencies have made several recommendations over the last year to improve safety aboard general aviation and Part 135 operations.

Earlier this year, in February, the NTSB released a “Most Wanted List” which lays out the agency’s agenda for the next two years, and how to best address issues related to all forms of transportation, including highway, aviation, rail and marine travel. Among the items listed on their agenda include improving the safety of aircraft flight operations.

The NTSB has recognized that not all classes of flight operators are held to the same FAA oversight. The recommendation suggests all classes of flight operators implement safety management systems and flight data monitoring programs to address the unique risks associated with their operations. Officials further stated operators must adopt beneficial risk mitigation strategies, and the FAA should be regularly ensuring compliance with standard operating procedures.

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