EAA AirVenture, Day 2

By Debbie Hersman

War birds preparing for take off during the air show at AirVenture 2012.
War birds preparing for take off during the air show at AirVenture 2012.

Today was another great day at EAA AirVenture! I started the day by giving an overview of the recent study the NTSB did on the safety of experimental amateur-built aircraft, or E-AB. When looking at data over the last 10 years, the E-AB accident rate has consistently been four times higher than certificated GA aircraft operated in similar conditions.

We conducted the study to better understand accident causes and identify ways to reduce the number of accidents. You can read the highlights of the study here. Our analysis showed that powerplant failures and loss of control in flight are the most common E-AB aircraft accidents by a large margin for both new and used aircraft. And we found that a higher proportion of E-AB accidents occur early in the aircraft’s operational life – 10% on the first flight of a new or used E-AB during 2011.

I appreciated the pilots that came to hear the presentation and offered a number of very thoughtful questions and comments. We discussed opportunities to improve the phase 1 test period and to enhance training in a new aircraft type. In addition, we had a great discussion about how industry associations and type clubs are really stepping up outreach and mentoring of E-AB builders and buyers.

Dr. Loren Groff, Dr. Vern Ellingstad and Chairman Hersman field questions about the NTSB EAB Safety Study.
Dr. Loren Groff, Dr. Vern Ellingstad and Chairman Hersman field questions about the NTSB EAB Safety Study.

Later in the day I got an in-depth briefing on air show operations and safety and got to see the results of all the intensive planning and coordination with the afternoon air show performance. It was particularly fun to watch Sean Tucker perform in his Oracle Challenger bi-plane since he had participated in our hearing on Air Race and Air Show Safety earlier this year.

Throughout the day I visited various exhibits, met with manufacturers and learning about their efforts to improve GA safety.

I thought I covered a lot of ground last year, but this year has been even better. I’m signing off now – so I can get prepared for my last day here in Oshkosh tomorrow.

With just three more days of AirVenture 2012, don’t forget to check out the NTSB’s EAA AirVenture 2012 activities.

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