In her opening statement at the June 19 convocation addressing General Aviation Safety—Climbing to the Next Level, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said “in spite of improvements to the commercial and corporate aviation safety records, the GA accident rate has been stubbornly resistant to safety initiatives.”
She’ll get no argument that, “the status quo is not acceptable. We need to break through the plateau and bring the accident rate down significantly.” But there will be change, no improvement, if the NTSB works to this mindset: “GA pilots are not learning from the deadly mistakes made by their brethren – not learning from lessons learned in the hardest of ways. Recreational fliers are the chief pilot of an airline of one.”
If the NTSB somehow encourages legislators and the FAA to impose airline and corporate aviation requirements on general aviation, it will surely be the coup de grace.
Comparing airline/corporate aviation and GA safety is apples and oranges. The former has a better record because of two-pilot crews who, motivated by continued employment, must successfully complete professional recurrent education in full fidelity flight simulators at least once a year. And even this is not a guarantee of perfect safety. Like GA pilots, professional pilots are capable of unintended stupid pilot tricks, even when another pro (or two) is double-checking every decision and action.
By reiterating her contention that GA pilots don’t “learn from their past experiences,” suggests that they commit flight with the intention of having an accident. (Okay, in 2010 there was the disgruntled taxpayer who flew his Piper into an IRS office in Austin, Texas, but that’s an isolated case.) I’ll admit that I don’t get out all that much, but I’ve never met an intentionally stupid GA pilot determined to hurt himself on every flight.
Striving for perfect safety should be the goal of all in aviation, but we must also realize that aviation is not risk free, that everyone is capable of doing something stupid at the wrong time, and that there is no absolute cure for this reality except staying on the ground. –Scott