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Aviation Accident Increase In 2003

Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation News

The National Transportation Safety Board has released preliminary aviation accident statistics for 2003 showing an increase in several civil aviation categories, including scheduled airlines, air taxis and general aviation.

The total number of U.S. civil aviation accidents rose from 1,820 in 2002 to 1,864 in 2003. There were a total of 695 fatalities in all aviation accidents in 2003. The majority of these fatalities occurred in general aviation and air taxi operations. There were 351 fatal general aviation accidents, up from 345 the year before. Total general aviation accidents increased from 1,713 in 2002 to 1,732 in 2003. The accident rate remained relatively unchanged from 6.69 in 2002 to 6.71 in 2003 per 100,000 flight hours.

There were three fatal accidents involving scheduled passenger service last year: a Beech 1900 operated by Air Midwest crashed on takeoff out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a Northwest Airlines DC-9 aircraft fatally injured a tug operator in Norfolk, Virginia. These two accidents, operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) Part 121, resulted in 22 fatalities. A third accident involving a 14 CFR Part 135 flight in the Bahamas, resulted in 2 fatalities.

Air taxis reported 77 accidents in 2003, which shows an increase from 59 in 2002. The total fatalities also increased from 35 to 45. The accident rate rose from 2.03 per 100,000 flight hours in 2002 to 2.61 in 2003. The accident rate for this segment of aviation has been questioned by the Safety Board, due to lack of precision in the flight activity estimates provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA made major revisions to flight estimates in 2002, retroactive to 1992. In 2003, the FAA revised the flight hour estimates for 1999-present.