November 2007 Issue

Improving GA Safety

We sit down with NTSB Vice-Chairman Robert Sumwalt to talk about our safety culture and the need for greater GA professionalism.

The 2006 accident statistics are out from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and they’re not good. When compared to 2005, aviation deaths rose from 617 to 779. According to the NTSB, nearly 90 percent of aviation fatalities occur in general aviation, which also accounted for a significant majority of the increase in aviation-related deaths from 2005 to 2006. Clearly, there’s some room for improvement. What’s not clear, however, is how to go about it. Sure, education is key; so is ensuring pilots not only get experience but get the right kind of experience. To gain some additional insights—and insights from the U.S. government agency charged with investigating transportation accidents and recommending safety-related improvements—we spent some quality time with NTSB Vice Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

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