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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-12-041
Synopsis: 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.
Recommendation: TO THE EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT ASSOCIATION: Work with your membership, aircraft kit manufacturers, and avionics manufacturers to develop standards for the recording of data in electronic flight displays, engine instruments, or other recording devices to be used in support of flight tests or continued airworthiness of experimental amateur-built aircraft.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Aviation
Location: Washington, DC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA12SS005
Accident Reports:
Report #: SS-12-01
Accident Date: 5/17/2011
Issue Date: 7/12/2012
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Experimental Aircraft Association (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Experimental Aircraft Association
Date: 3/12/2019
Response: We note that you are working with three avionics manufacturers to develop recording technology that includes readable electronic memory within electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) flight displays for EA-B aircraft. You indicated that the data gathered from the EFIS flight displays would be linked to an electronic copy of the flight test manual and used to develop an aircraft-specific POH. We also note that you are compiling a list of other manufacturers who are developing similar technology so that they can be included in the standard-development process. We believe that your efforts thus far are responsive to this recommendation. Pending periodic updates and the developed standards, Safety Recommendation A-12-41 remains classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Experimental Aircraft Association
Date: 8/20/2018
Response: -From Sean Elliott, Vice President, Advocacy and Safety: EAA is working closely with three major avionics manufacturers to develop recording technology within EFIS flight displays for experimental aircraft. Garmin, Dynon, and Advanced Flight Systems have all made significant progress in electronic data gathering technology, and continue to reach new limits with their EFIS displays. As development continues, these manufacturers and EAA are working together to make readable electronic memory available to be used in flight testing experimental aircraft. We plan to link the data gathered from the EFIS flight displays to an electronic copy of the Flight Test Manual in order to develop a Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) specific to that aircraft. After the data is received by the manual, pilots would have information for that individual aircraft, and would be able to fly based on its specifications. While working with the three main avionics manufacturers, EAA continues to explore the progress that has been made by other manufacturers. We are gathering a list of companies working on this type of technology so that we can work together to create standards.

From: NTSB
To: Experimental Aircraft Association
Date: 4/17/2013
Response: We believe that the plan you described for exploring the feasibility of, and potential methods for, developing voluntary standards for electronic data gathering will satisfy this recommendation, once that plan has been implemented. In the meantime, pending our review of the standards once they have been developed, Safety Recommendation A 12-41 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Experimental Aircraft Association
Date: 1/24/2013
Response: -From Jack J. Pelton, Chairman of the Board: EAA, working with avionics and equipment manufacturers, will explore the feasibility and potential methodology of developing voluntary standards for electronic data gathering. This will necessarily be a long-term effort, as most data processing and collection today follows proprietary methods specific to each manufacturer and device. We do have some concern that the NTSB may be overestimating the prevalence and installation rate of devices with recording capability in amateur-built aircraft. These devices are found in some higher-end aircraft, but as a percentage of the fleet, they represent a relatively small segment so the safety dividends of this effort could be limited. However, we agree that over time, avionics and instruments with data recording capability will gradually continue to become more prevalent in amateur-built aircraft. We caution the NTSB that there is concern within the pilot/owner/builder community over the cost of this equipment and the potential use of collected data. Experience has shown that data collected by avionics and instruments has been used as evidence against a pilot or aircraft builder in liability legal proceedings. This precedent has had a chilling effect on the use and documentation flight data in support of flight testing and continued airworthiness. While these are difficult challenges with no short-term solutions, EAA is committed to engaging with equipment manufacturers and our members to seek solutions and accommodations for increased and more comprehensive use of data in support of flight-testing and maintenance of amateur built aircraft.