Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 27, 2008 23:35:31 GMT 12
With the fatal crash yesterday of a homebuilt aircraft at Whenuapai, I read the inevitable media report quoting someone in the homebuild fraternity stating just how safe and regulated they are - as if the press had gone along trying to see if there was a story in the danger home made planes.
It made me wonder, just what are the statistics? there are many more commercially built and maintained aircraft on the register in NZ than there are home built aircraft. But are the fatality statistics around the same ratio? Does anyone know?
I think possibly the more risky users of aircraft, such as agricultural flying where day to day work is low to the ground, flying around around obstacles and high hours, should show up higher in the crash stats. Especially Robinson 22's which seem to drop like flies..
Most other users of aircraft from airlines to pleasure flyers have much less risk attached. But are there more crashes of homebuilds than, say, Cessnas and Pipers? Or less? Is the risk exactly the same? It would be interesting to know if more crashes and/or more fatalities occur per year in one or the other type. (obviously is a 737 went down, the fatalities would go up, I mean just count each crash where people die as one fatal accident).
Unfortunately CAA doesnt keep separate statistics of Homebuilt aircraft vs factory built, its all categorised on the stats they use for safety monitoring as "Sport and recreational flying". In practice I believe the rate is actually very low, we've had 3 fatal accidents in the last 3 years that I recall, which isnt too bad considering 10% of all aircraft on the NZ register are homebuilts. The media are making big issues over the safety of homebuilts (I dont think anyone else is though!) which is entirely expected, however looking at the state of some factory builts in aero club service, I'd rather fly a well constructed and maintained homebuilt. Homebuilders have a vested interest in making sure thier machines are airworthy - They have to fly them!
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
Bruce raises a few really good points, with regard to the safety of homebuilts. However, most homebuilts, unlike factory made aeroplanes such as Cessna, Piper etc, are privately owned. That means there is no 'filter' for currency or ensuring that all paperwork is up to scratch, ie there is no sign out through any instructor. Sure, the same thing happens with privately owned factory branded aeroplanes I'm sure. But the majority of homebuilts are privately owned, and it must be very tempting for an owner to think "Ill be ok" and just go when they may not in fact be as current as the standard required elsewhere to hire an aeroplane. I am not inferring anything towards the Whenuapai accident, just generalising.
I know there's a lot of money in aviation because I put it there.
All the homebuilt guys I know are pretty serious about thier personal flying standards. Sure there are some issues getting instructors to sign of ratings etc but generally they are pretty good. Homebuilts still require annual inspections and Annual reviews of Maintenance, and unless the builder has a specific maintenance approval (not many do) this work must be carried out by a LAME - just like any privately owned factory built. The issues of pilot currency and competance do apply to privately owned aircraft as well (and there are a lot more of these than you would think - see the CAA registrations listing). In terms of dangerous safety attitudes I saw more of that during my time in small airline operations than I have ever seen in sport flying. SAA people are regularly seen at AvKiwi seminars and the like, and seem to be out flying regularly and taking part in skills focussed flying activities (such as the Black Sands Beach flying workshop). There will always be the odd exception, but probably no more than any other area of GA.
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 28, 2008 10:38:39 GMT 12
I agree with you Bruce. I have always assumed hat because they build the aircraft with their own hands from scratch, a real labour of love, then most homebuild pilots will be much more caring of maintenance and careful than someone who goes and hires a Cessna from a club who assumes it's been maintained ok.
It's interesting how when there's a boating tragedy the media never picks up on whther it was a commercially produced boat, or one built by an enthusiast in his back yard (many are built that way).
Homebuilts still require annual inspections and Annual reviews of Maintenance, and unless the builder has a specific maintenance approval (not many do) this work must be carried out by a LAME
Bruce: This is different to the US, where the manufacturer/assembler of the home built aircraft automatically gets sign-off approval? What's the requirement to get maintenance approval as a non-LAME in NZ?
For "Experimental category" homebuilts (i.e not microlights) a LAME is required to sign out maintenance not covered by CAA Part 43 Pilot Maintenance, unless a maintenance approval specific to the aircraft has been issued. To obtain that approval one needs to 1. Be the constructor of that particular aircraft (so if you sell it the new buyer is unable to obtain the approval) 2. To have attended a maintenance approval training course and passed the exam (covering standard aviation practice, documentation and legal responsibilities etc) SAANZ holds regional training courses regularly. 3. To have completed two 100hr inspections on the aircraft under the direct supervision of a LAME who will sign a statement to this effect.
I understand the Annual review of airworthiness ( a check on the aircraft and documentation to ensure all ADs are complied with and no unapproved mods are incorporated etc still has to be completed by someone holding the appropriate IA (Inspection Authorisation) approval.
This seems a lot of hassle considering that the builder has built an aircraft with a lot less intensive supervision, but ongoing maintenance is a different story to construction, and SAANZ has achieved a lot to get CAA to this stage. It ensures adequate standards are maintained and no shortcuts are likely to be taken. Microlight registered aircraft on the other hand can be maintained by anyone, with just a "Warrant of Fitness" style inspection annually by a RAANZ approved inspector. Another reason for their increasing popularity.