Tue, Nov 18, 2003
FAA Reports Reduction In Accidents
Flying is more than an avocation in
Alaska. It's a necessary, often daily fact of life. And as such, it
can sometimes be treacherous. But between January and October of
this year there were 106 aviation accidents in Alaska. That's the
lowest accident rate in more than a decade.
So says the FAA's Joette Storm in Anchorage. "We're hoping to
continue that way for the rest of the year."
Why the drop? FAA says it's because of an intensified education
effort that began way back in the 1980s. Back then, commercial
carrier accidents numbered about 62 a year. That average is now
down to just 32 a year. This year, there were only 21 commercial
aviation incidents reported between January and October.
And that's the good news.
The bad news is that the number of fatalities is up. Between
January and October, 29 people died in Alaska aviation accidents.
While that's more fatalities than have been reported in several
recent years, it's less than the 44 people who were killed in the
same period of 1995.
In 1980, the FAA conducted a study on air accidents in Alaska.
It found three main contributing factors:
- inadequate airfield facilities and communications
- deficient weather observations and navigation tools
- Bush syndrome
The latter was identified as bush pilots' willingness to take
risks, a common occurrence when you're far away from repair
facilities or constantly fly in degraded weather conditions. Since
the 1980 study, Alaska has developed a portable runway lighting
capability and has set up 30 weather cameras at key spots
throughout the state.
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