AOPA’s Air Safety Institute Releases Richard G. McSpadden Report (Formerly Joseph T. Nall Report)

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 33rd edition of the AOPA Air Safety Institute Accident Report—retitled the Richard G. McSpadden Report—covers calendar year 2021. The report was renamed in honor and memory of our beloved friend and colleague who tragically lost his life in an airplane accident on October 1, in Lake Placid, New York.

The report’s accident data are updated on a rolling 30-day cycle allowing for the most current snapshot of general aviation safety performance.

The report notes an increase in total accidents from 1,050 in 2020 to 1,124 in 2021. However, four million additional flight hours—compared to the previous year—helped offset the increase in accidents. Overall accident rates decreased from 4.69 per 100,000 flight hours to 4.28 and the fatal accident rate decreased from 0.84 to 0.77 from 2020 to 2021, respectively.

Non-commercial fixed-wing accident rates decreased slightly with the fatal accident rate declining to 0.86 and the total accident rate decreasing to 4.87.  “An area where we see some discouragement is the non-commercial helicopter 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 lethality rate for weather accidents remain steady at an average of eight per year despite continual efforts to address this area.”

Landing accidents saw a decrease in the total number of accidents but an increase in the number of fatal accidents. Mechanical accidents saw an increase in total accidents but a decrease in 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 33rd AOPA Air Safety Institute Accident Report here.