NTSB Spotlights Safety Factors for Homebuilt Aircraft

May 22, 2012 - The National Transportation Safety Board today highlighted 16 recommendations to improve homebuilt aircraft safety, but also complimented EAA and its programs as helping to make the amateur-built aircraft community a safer place.

The NTSB made its recommendations at a full board meeting in Washington, D.C., following a briefing by agency staff on an extensive safety study of homebuilt aircraft that began in 2011. EAA assisted NTSB with an initial survey by encouraging involvement of EAA members, in an effort to establish an accurate, comprehensive database of the homebuilt community. More than 5,000 EAA members participated in the survey.

Among the areas of focus within the 16 NTSB recommendations were flight testing procedures and plans, development of operational limitations and flight manuals for homebuilts, transition training, expanding availability of transition training, and use of electronic data to develop flight test plans and operations manuals.

"One of the most important findings of this study is the number of seasoned and experienced pilots getting into accidents so early in the life of structurally sound airplanes," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "The recommendations we issue today can improve safety while encouraging the continued growth of this innovative and vibrant segment of the aviation community."

Hersman and other board members specifically cited EAA's contributions to amateur-built aircraft safety, and recommended four areas where EAA can expand its programs and play a leading role in enhancing safety.

"We appreciate the NTSB board's unanimous acknowledgement that the amateur-built aircraft community is an important element in the growth and innovation for all of aviation," said EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower. "We appreciate the praise that the board publicly gave to EAA's programs and efforts on behalf of safety. We understand the need to balance safety with the freedoms that allow Americans to use their imagination and skills to create aircraft that bring new technology and designs."

EAA and its Homebuilt Aircraft Council will continue to study the recommendations for what effect they may have on the design, building and certification of amateur-built aircraft. Any action must ensure that the freedom to participate in the amateur-built aircraft community does not create additional burdens or hurdles.