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NTSB pushes for more oversight of experimental aircraft to reduce accident rate


Citing an accident rate double the rest of the general aviation fleet, the National Transportation Safety Board is encouraging a broad set of changes to make experimental aircraft safer. The board’s 16 recommendations include having the FAA require builders or owners to test the plane’s fuel system before first flight, and to draft a flight testing plan and a thorough aircraft flight manual. The Experimental Aircraft Association should do more to promote education, training and flight test data collection in the homebuilt community, the board said in its recommendations. While broadly supportive of the NTSB’s review, EAA expressed concern that some of the board’s recommendations would lead to added rules and regulations, when more training would suffice. The NTSB reviewed all 224 homebuilt accidents that occurred in 2011; 54 of those were fatal, a rate three times higher than the rest of general aviation. The NTSB study found that engine failure and loss of control were the most common causes of accidents, while structural failure and inflight breakups were rare.