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Experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft represent nearly 10 percent of the U.S. general aviation fleet, but these aircraft accounted for approximately 15 percent of the total-and 21 percent of the fatal-U.S. general aviation (GA) accidents in 2011. Experimental amateur-built aircraft represent a growing segment of the United States' general aviation fleet-a segment that now numbers nearly 33,000 aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) undertook this study because of the popularity of E-AB aircraft, concerns over their safety record, and the absence of a contemporary and definitive analysis of E-AB aircraft safety. The study employed several different methods and data collection procedures to carefully examine this segment of U.S. civil aviation. This comprehensive approach resulted in a detailed characterization of the current E-AB aircraft fleet, pilot population, and associated accidents. Four sources of data formed the basis of this study. First, the NTSB performed a retrospective analysis of accident and activity data over the last decade to compare the accident experience of E-AB aircraft with that of similar non-E-AB aircraft used in similar GA flight operations. Second, the NTSB conducted in-depth investigations of all E-AB aircraft accidents during 2011, which provided a case-series of accidents for more detailed analysis. Third, a broad survey of the community of aircraft owners and builders was conducted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in July and August 2011, and the data were made available to the NTSB for analysis to understand the population of E-AB aircraft builders and owners. Finally, discussions with EAA representatives, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials, E-AB aircraft builders and owners, kit manufacturers, and representatives of E-AB aircraft type clubs provided insights on E-AB aircraft safety issues and solutions.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Revise Federal Aviation Administration Order 8130.2G and related guidance or regulations, as necessary, to include provisions for the use of electronic data recordings from electronic flight displays, engine instruments, or other recording devices in support of Phase I flight testing of experimental amateur-built aircraft to document the aircraft performance data and operating envelope and develop an accurate and complete aircraft flight manual.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Washington, DC, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Open Acceptable Alternate Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that you believe the AC you are currently drafting to help amateur builders develop individualized, requirements-based aircraft flight test plans will be an acceptable alternate response to these recommendations, as it will ensure that aircraft are adequately tested and documented by creating a generic flight test plan and will encourage kit manufacturers to provide more specialized plans. The new AC may constitute an acceptable alternate response, but we will need to review it to determine whether it satisfies all the objectives of these recommendations. Pending issuance of the new AC and our determination that it satisfies the objectives of the recommendations, Safety Recommendations A-12-029, -032, and -034 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: As noted above, the FAA determined that resources are not currently available to conduct rule changes. However, we determined that the draft AC to provide a requirements-based Phase I flight testing approach discussed above constitutes an acceptable alternative action to these recommendations. We expect that a requirements-based Phase I flight test will ensure that aircraft are adequately tested and documented by creating a generic flight test plan. as well as promoting kit manufacturers to provide more specialized flight test plans. We anticipate publishing this AC by March 31, 2017.
In your September 24, 2012, letter regarding these recommendations, you indicated plans to create an amateur-built aircraft safety team to review the current guidance and policy for amateur-built aircraft certification and operation and to address these recommendations. Although more than 3 years have elapsed since then, we have received no additional information from you regarding the status of these efforts. Pending our receipt of your update and completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-12-28 through 32, -34 through -36, and -38 remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
The FAA is creating an amateur-built aircraft safety team who will review the current guidance and policy for amateur-built aircraft certification and operation and will address these recommendations. We ask that, after the team has been organized and is ready to begin its work, the NTSB staff involved in the safety study be given an opportunity to meet with the team. To arrange such a meeting, please have a member of the team contact Mr. Jeffrey Marcus. In the meantime, pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-12-28 through 32, -34 through -36, and -38 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is creating a cross-organizational Amateur-Built Safety Team to review the current guidance and policy for amateur-built aircraft certification and operation. The team will address the recommendations with input from industry and organizations. The FAA, through the Amateur-Built Safety Team, plans to develop a timeline with milestones and deliverables. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA'5 progress on Safety Recommendations A-12-28 through -39 and provide an update by September 30, 2013. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed Safety Recommendation A-12-37, and I consider our action complete.
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