The AOPA Air Safety
Foundation’s just-released 2005 Joseph T. Nall Report shows
an historic low for aviation accidents in 2004. The report, funded
by the Emil Buehler Trust, is the nation’s first
authoritative look at the general aviation (GA) accident rate for
the preceding year.
According to the report, there were 6.22 total accidents and 1.2
fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours for 2004. For 2003, the
accident rates were 6.77 and 1.37, respectively.
“Although the accident rate is down this year, there is still
work to be done,” said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of
the Air Safety Foundation.
“During the 15 years that the Foundation has published the
annual Nall Report, pilot error continues to top the list of
accident causes. This year, based on an increase in weather-related
accidents, we focused on weather accidents and pilot decision
making when in hazardous weather conditions.”
In 2004, nearly 25 percent of the 45 fatal weather-related
accidents involved thunderstorms. All of those flights, both VFR
and IFR, were under air traffic control at the time of their
The Air Safety
Foundation dedicated a Special Emphasis section of its 2005 Nall
Report to the importance of hazardous weather avoidance, and the
need for pilots and controllers to work together.
According to the Special Emphasis section of the report, Weather
and Radar Processing (WARP) is now installed in all Air Route
Traffic Control Centers. WARP provides weather images, derived from
NEXRAD weather radar, on the air traffic controller’s radar
“All pilots should be aware of the capabilities of this
potentially life-saving technology, as well as its
limitations,” said Landsberg (pictured, right).
The Air Safety Foundation offers numerous weather-related safety
products, including Safety Advisors and seminars. An online
training program about thunderstorm avoidance is due to be released
this spring. It will join the other ASF online courses, which can
be found online at www.asf.org/courses.
Overall, the 2005 Nall Report shows that there were 6.7 percent
fewer total accidents in 2004 than in 2003, and fatal accidents
declined by 7.1 percent. The decrease in GA accidents in 2004
continued a downward trend of overall and fatal GA accident rates,
which are down about 25 percent over the past 10 years.
This reduction in accidents continued even as the FAA estimates
that GA flight hours have increased by about 200,000 hours in each
of the last three years.
The report, popular among pilots as a way to learn from the
mistakes of others, is also used as a reliable source for GA
accident information by members of the media, policy makers, and
other public figures. The 2005 Nall Report can be downloaded
AOPA members can order a copy of the 2005 Nall Report by calling
the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 1-800-USA-AOPA.
The 2005 Nall Report was funded entirely by the Emil Buehler
Trust, which was established in 1984 to perpetuate the memory of
Emil Buehler and his commitment to aviation science and technology.
During his lifetime, Buehler believed that the majesty and mystery
of flight was a vision to be shared. This vision drives the
continuing philanthropic involvement of the dedicated Board of
Trustees of the Emil Buehler Trust.
The annual Joseph T. Nall Report is dedicated to the memory of
Joe Nall, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member who
died as a passenger in an airplane accident in Caracas, Venezuela,