You have probably already read or at least noted, that on Wednesday (June 18th) USA Today published an article titled ‘Unfit for Flight’ that aviation groups have taken exception to, slamming the publication for its one-sided, sensationalistic and inaccurate reporting of safety in general aviation.
AIA President, CEO and former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey noted that the story ignores “overwhelming evidence of improving general aviation safety in a misguided effort to paint the aerospace manufacturers in a bad light.” AOPA also responded to the article saying that AOPA, GAMA, and Textron had all provided information to the reporter, but the information was excluded from the report.
Pete Bunce, GAMA President and CEO, said that Thomas Frank’s sensationalistic three-part series failed to acknowledge the significant progress general aviation manufacturers have made to improve safety. Bunce said the reality is that the number of fatal accidents in general aviation aircraft has declined substantially in recent years. In fact, Bunce said, the goal of 1 fatal accident per 100,000 hours flown by 2018 now appears increasingly likely.
Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro responded by saying, “What I read was a blatant one-sided attack which casts aspersions on an entire industry and intimated a disregard for safety, as well as collusion among aviation regulators, operators and manufacturers. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
Zuccaro went on to say that their highest priority is safety above all else. The fact is that when a safety concern is identified, helicopter manufacturers, operators and government agencies work together to correct the situation. “Just recently, HAI, on behalf of its members, requested that the FAA issue new regulations to mandate that all helicopter operators conducting helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) be required to install and use night vision technology. Of note is the fact that over 90% of the HEMS operators have already installed such equipment on a volunteer basis because it is the right thing to do,” said Zuccaro.