AOPA’s Air Safety Institute Releases 32nd Joseph T. Nall Report

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute (ASI) has released its 32nd edition of the Joseph T. Nall Report, which covers calendar year 2020. The report’s digital platform provides near real-time accident data that are updated on a rolling 30-day cycle, accelerating the analysis process, and allowing for the most current snapshot of general aviation safety performance.

The report notes a decrease in total accidents from 1,167 in 2019 to 1,051 in 2020. The 10-year average is 1,223 accidents each year. Overall accident rates decreased from 4.87 per 100,000 flight hours to 4.69 and the fatal accident rate decreased from 0.89 to 0.83 from 2019 to 2020, respectively.

In addition, non-commercial fixed-wing accidents decreased slightly with the fatal accident rate declining to 0.92 and the total accident rate decreasing to 5.27. Helicopter accidents—both commercial and non-commercial—saw relatively flat fatal accident rates from 2019 to 2020, but overall accident rates decreased. Weather-related accidents remain highly lethal, but overall weather accidents sharply decreased in 2020, and maneuvering accidents—another area with high lethality— saw a substantial decrease in fatal accidents reaching a 10-year low.

“An area where we see some discouragement is the commercial fixed-wing total accident rate, which rose following two years of decline,” said Robert Geske, AOPA Air Safety Institute manager of aviation safety analysis. Geske continued, “We are also disappointed to see the number of fatal fuel-related accidents, which has remained steady at an average of eight per year for several years.”

“Furthermore, landing accidents continue to remain the leading type of accidents, but thankfully they account for the lowest number of fatal accidents,” Geske concluded. Descent and approach accidents rose in both overall and fatal accidents, with stall/spin accidents accounting for the largest number of fatal accidents.

ASI’s summaries for a given period provide insight and comparisons of selected dates versus previous years. Please review the summaries for a detailed analysis of trends and rates for non-commercial and commercial fixed-wing operations, non-commercial and commercial helicopter operations, and sport/experimental operations.

View the 32nd Joseph T. Nall Report here.