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Personal Flying Accident Rates of Selected Light Sport Aircraft Compared with General Aviation Aircraft

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BACKGROUND: The issue of expanding flight privileges that do not require medical oversight is currently an important topic, especially in the United States. We compared personal flying accident rates in aircraft with special light sport aircraft (SLSA) and experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) airworthiness certificates to accident rates for personal flying in other general aviation (GA) aircraft.

METHODS: To calculate accident rates, personal flying hours were obtained from the annual FAA General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Surveys, and numbers of personal flying accidents were obtained from the NTSB accident database. Overall and fatal personal flying accident rates for the SLSA and ELSA groups and other GA aircraft were calculated and accident rates were compared.

RESULTS: The overall personal flying accident rate for SLSA and ELSA was found to be 29.8 per 100,000 flight hours and the fatal accident rate was 5.2 per 100,000 flying hours. These are both significantly greater than the overall personal flying rate of 12.7 per 100,000 h and fatal rate of 2.6 per 100,000 h for other GA aircraft.

DISCUSSION: Although this study has several limitations, the significantly higher accident rates in the sport pilot aircraft suggests caution when expanding sport pilot privileges to include larger, more complex aircraft.

Mills WD, DeJohn CA. Personal flying accident rates of selected light sport aircraft compared with general aviation aircraft. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(7):652–654.
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Keywords: accident rate; light sport aircraft; safety; sport pilot

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Publication date: 01 July 2016

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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