Wings Magazine

U.S. safety alerts aim to improve general aviation

Dec. 31, 2013, Washington, D.C. - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board last week announced it had issued five new safety alerts that provide general aviation pilots with strategies for preventing accidents.

December 31, 2013  By Carey Fredericks

The alerts follow five others that were issued earlier in the year that focused on the most frequent types of general aviation accidents.

The agency defined alerts as brief information sheets that pinpoint particular safety hazards and offer practical remedies to address the issues.

The new “Armed” for Safety: Emergency Locator Transmitters alert, for example, advises pilots to verify that devices are switched on and attached to aircraft to ensure that they will work when needed. They can save pilots’ and passengers’ lives by helping search and rescue personnel locate a downed aircraft after an accident and minimize risk to personnel during operations, but “these lifelines can be rendered inoperative” if switch positions are improperly set or if they becomes detached from the aircraft, the agency said.

The other four recent safety alerts are:


• Check Your Restraints
• Engine Power Loss Due to Carburetor Icing
• All Secure, All Clear (securing items in the aircraft cabin)
• Proper Use of Fiber or Nylon Self-Locking Nuts

Commercial aviation continues to have a strong safety record, the agency said, however each year it continues to investigate an average of 1,500 general aviation accidents in which about 475 pilots and passengers are killed and hundreds more are seriously injured in the United States.

“Knowing these accidents, which sometimes include entire families, can be prevented is why ‘General Aviation Safety’ is on our Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements,” Deborah A.P. Hersman. NTSB’s chairman said in a statement. “At a time when many people are putting together their list of resolutions for the coming year, these five Safety Alerts remind pilots, mechanics and passengers of basic safety precautions to add to their checklists to ensure a safe flight for all on board.”
In describing the problem, the agency wrote: “In many cases, pilots did not have the adequate knowledge, skills, or recurrent training to fly safely, particularly in questionable weather conditions. In addition, the more sophisticated “glass” cockpit displays present a new layer of complications for general aviation pilots. And not only are pilots dying due to human error and inadequate training, but also they are frequently transporting their families who suffer the same tragic fate.”

Also, although the overall general aviation accident rate has remained relatively steady, the components have changed dramatically over the last 10 years, the agency said. Personal flying accident rates, for example, have increased 20 percent, while the fatal accident rate has increased 25 percent over the same 10-year period.


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