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Marion C. Blakey addresses USA Today's article.

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June 26, 2014 - According to AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey, USA Today story, "Unfit for Flight" ignores overwhelming evidence of improving general aviation safety in a misguided effort to paint aerospace manufacturers in a bad light. Going back through 5 decades of accident data significantly distorts the marked decline in both fatal and non-fatal accidents that occurred from 1999 to 2011, with fatal accidents falling 24% and non-fatal accidents falling 29% over that time period.

USA Today Flying Blind


Aerospace Industries Association
1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1700
Arlington, VA, 22209-3928
USA



Press release date: June 18, 2014

Statement by AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey on misleading article on general aviation’s safety record

Arlington, Va. — Today’s USA Today story, “Unfit for Flight” ignores overwhelming evidence of improving general aviation safety in a misguided effort to paint aerospace manufacturers in a bad light.  Going back through five decades of accident data significantly distorts the marked decline in both fatal and non-fatal accidents that occurred from 1999 to 2011, with fatal accidents falling 24 percent and non-fatal accidents falling 29 percent over that time period according to GAO’s October 2012 report on general aviation safety.  In fact, according to the GAO, the majority of general aviation accidents result in no injuries at all – a far cry from USA Today's screaming headlines.

Looking for corporate villains, the story irresponsibly implies that the aircraft manufacturing industry is an overwhelming contributor to general aviation accidents.  This ignores the facts and cherry-picks anecdotal data to present a grossly misleading picture.  The aviation industry is engaged in ongoing efforts in close cooperation with NTSB and FAA to improve safety both in terms of equipment and pilot training.  For instance, FAA’s Alaskan Capstone project deploys ADS-B technologies in places where radar cannot work to provide better guidance and reduce the accident rate.  Many Alaskan communities are dependent on general aviation services to connect them with the world; the effort to increase safety in that area stands as just one example of industry partnering with government to improve the lives of everyday citizens.

As a former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, I also know from personal experience that the picture of these dedicated agencies painted by USA Today is inaccurate and unfair.  General aviation performs a vital role in our economy, linking American communities, helping save countless lives in emergency situations and providing early training for the pilots who fly our commercial and military aircraft.  Fair reporting would show nationwide trends, include recent data and recognize laudable manufacturing industry efforts to improve safety in close coordination with our government.  The public, and the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on our aircraft, deserve better.

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Founded in 1919 shortly after the birth of flight, the Aerospace Industries Association is the most authoritative and influential trade association representing the nation’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems, space systems, aircraft engines, homeland and cybersecurity systems, materiel and related components, equipment services and information technology.

Daniel N. Stohr
Director, Communications
Aerospace Industries Association
1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1700
Arlington, Virginia 22209 USA
T: 703-358-1078 C: 703-517-8173
dan.stohr@aia-aerospace.org
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