December 10, 2009, Alexandria, VA - The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) has released its first safety review of the Part 135 on-demand air charter industry. The Part 135 Incident/Accident Review is a comprehensive look at the factors surrounding charter incidents and accidents between 2004 and 2008.
In conducting the review, the ACSF analyzed each Part 135 on-demand event reported in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) database and identified non-revenue flights flown under Part 91 that were under the control of a certificate holder. These include maintenance, ferry, positioning and instructional flights among others. Events on Part 91 flights under the operational control of an aircraft owner were not included.
Several interesting data-points emerged in the review:
• Approximately 65% of all revenue flight accidents, and 62% of non-revenue, occurred in visual meteorological conditions (VMC).
• Non-revenue (i.e. Part 91) fatal accidents accounted for 28% of all non-revenue accidents while 25% of all revenue flights were fatal accidents.
• Revenue accident flights involving transportation to/from oil rigs represent, on average for the five year period, 18% of all accidents.
The ACSF refrains from drawing specific conclusions about these figures as the means to place them into proper context is dependent upon an accurate reporting of flight hours in each category. Such data is not collected by either the FAA or NTSB.
"ACSF believes that our study provides an insight into the areas of our industry that deserve deeper evaluation to identify where higher risks actually lie. Without better data on how many hours are flown by aircraft type and mission both government and industry are unable to make informed choices regarding interventions," explained ACSF executive director Jacqueline Rosser.
For example, during the five year period examined, cargo flights accounted for 112 accidents and there were 128 passenger flight accidents. Without having accurate flight hours for each type of mission, it is impossible to determine whether these accidents represent a frequency proportional or disproportional to their actual exposure. Commenting on the inclusion of non-revenue flights in the review, Rosser explained, "Early on we made the decision to include Part 91 flights that were under the certificate holder's control. ACSF members have stated that the safety impact and risks for these flights are not well known within the industry. The charter operator is just as responsible for the safety of these flights as for those operated for-hire. It is imperative that we better understand the frequency and severity of these types of accidents so that we can endeavor improve operational safety overall, not just when passengers or cargo are on-board."
The Part 135 Incident/Accident Review will be updated annually as new information becomes available. Copies of the report are being delivered to every ACSF member. Non-members may order a copy of the publication for $25. Call ACSF at 888-723-3135 to place an order.
An article in USA Today claims to expose failures in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of on-demand charter operators.
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