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Alaska Fatal Aviation Accident Rate Down Substantially

Only 11 Fatalities Recorded In The State Last Year Compared to 23 In 2011

While one fatal accident is one too many, Alaska showed a marked improvement in the number of fatalities in aviation accidents in 2012 when compared to 2011. Last year, there were 11 fatalities resulting from aviation accidents in the state while in 2011, there were 23.

A number of factors may have been involved in the much-lower number, and officials admit luck is one of them. But the FAA Safety Team office in Alaska has been stressing a multi-faceted approach to safety in the state over he past year, offering pilots safety tips outside the normal course of aircraft inspections, as well as simply maintaining safety as a priority for pilots and the office.

Brian Staurseth, manager of the FAA’s Safety Team office in Alaska, told the Alaska Dispatch that there have been more visits to general aviation facilities to discuss safety with pilots. And, he said, there has been more emphasis on educating passengers on GA flights. The office has been involved in public outreach and media commercials encouraging those who fly on GA airplanes to be sure the pilot of the aircraft is operating safely, that he or she is conscientious about things like gross weight of the airplane and weight and balance distribution.

The FAA and NTSB are also stressing the importance of the change to 406 megahertz ELTs. The 121.5 MHz frequency is no longer monitored by SAR personnel, but the 406 MHz units have not been mandated. The NTSB's top representative in Alaska, Clint Johnson, told the paper that 406 MHz ELTs are a "top concern." He also said that ADS-B technology and the series of weather cameras that have been placed around the state by the FAA have been very helpful in reducing the number of fatal accidents.



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