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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedAmateur-built aircraft safety: EAA, FAA collaborate on improvements
By Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
 
Are amateur-built aircraft operations getting safer? Can industry identify any trends involving them and take steps to improve their safety even further?

Those are the two main questions members of the Amateur-Built Joint Safety Committee (AB-JSC) wrestled with Tuesday on the grounds of EAA AirVenture 2010.

And in response to the committee’s efforts new help is being developed to aid pilots’ understanding of safety challenges specific to flying amateur-built aircraft.

Composed of EAA staff and FAA managers, the committee met to receive updates on several of its ongoing projects—all of which are designed to improve the safety record of amateur-built aircraft.

One of the central problems with which the committee is wrestling involves the quality of accident data.

While amateur-built aircraft have been around for decades, the various records kept by the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board, and others aren’t always sufficient to identify trends, whether good or bad.

That’s because the available information about many accidents involving experimental aircraft doesn’t distinguish between amateur-built and other types of experimentals.

Regardless of ongoing efforts to refine and ensure the accuracy of related data, some factors affecting amateur-built aircraft safety are well-known.

They include training, poor fuel management, weather-related loss of control, and a pilot’s understanding of a specific aircraft’s characteristics—or lack thereof.

One way to address these accident causes—which, after all, are not that different from those experienced with certificated aircraft—is education.

That’s why the AB-JSC is nearing completion on developing an FAA advisory circular designed to help pilots and amateur-built aircraft owners identify and understand these potential accident causes and the challenges they pose.

That advisory circular will be available, at least in draft form, later this year.

Meanwhile, the AB-JSC will continue working on ways to identify and quantify accidents involving amateur-built aircraft, including information-collection refinements and improvements.

After all, if the homebuilt community doesn’t take steps to improve safety, it’s likely someone will do it for them.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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