The 31st Joseph T. Nall Report offers users a near real-time analysis of general aviation accidents that are updated on a rolling 30-day cycle, with access to analysis going back as far as 2008, with data trends projected well into 2021.
ASI’s executive summaries for a given period provide insight and comparisons of selected dates versus previous years. In 2017, the executive summaries note a decrease in overall accident rates. Recently, however, the overall accident rates have risen. While this is concerning, historically accident rates are cyclical and after years of downward trends, move up before falling even further.
Fatal accident rates in non-commercial fixed-wing, commercial fixed-wing, and commercial helicopter all rose, while non-commercial helicopter rates fell.
Stall/loss-of-control events continue to be the leading causal factor and weather-related accidents remain highly lethal. These accident causes relate to pilot decision-making and proficiency and this data helps inform the industry, including the AOPA Air Safety Institute, where further education and training are needed to improve aviation safety.
General aviation (GA) is all flight activity of every kind except that done by the uniformed armed services and scheduled airlines. In addition to personal and recreational flying, it includes public-benefit missions such as law enforcement and fire suppression, flight instruction, freight hauling, passenger charters, crop-dusting, and other types of aerial work that range from news reporting to helicopter sling loads.
The Nall Report analyzes GA accidents in U.S. National Airspace and on flights departing from or returning to the U.S. or its territories or possessions. The report covers airplanes with maximum rated gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less and helicopters of all sizes. Collectively, these types of aircraft account for 99 percent of GA flight activity. Other categories are excluded, including gliders, weight-shift control aircraft, powered parachutes, gyrocopters, UAS, and lighter-than-air crafts of all types.
The total amount of accidents nationwide can vary substantially from year to year. For that reason, the most informative measure is usually not the number of accidents but the accident rate, commonly expressed as the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours. GA flight time is estimated using the FAA’s annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey, which breaks down aircraft activity by category and class and purpose of flight, among other characteristics.