Yes, there have been more light aircraft accidents in 2008. Sadly, the author of this article appears to be trying to link the rise in Recreational Aviation to the increase, throwing in comments about maintenance being done by non-CASA certified engineers and how RAAus wants to increase the weight of aircraft it is allowed to govern.
Suffice to say, I submitted a comment to the newspaper:
Is Paul Bibby trying to imply that RAAus is the reason for the increase in accidents this year? An interesting concept given that the aircraft involved in the 4 most recent crashes were in no way RAAus aircraft but were, in fact, covered by CASA and their maintenance, monitoring and training regimes (2 x Cessna 172s, 1 x Lake Buccanneer and a crop duster). Further, the two mid-air collisions in 2008 (Moorabbin and Bankstown) both involved VH registered aircraft that were covered by CASA, not RAAus.
So, while over half the fatalities were in the 0 – 2250 category, how many were actually weighing less than 544kg and thus governed by RAAus instead of CASA? It is also important to compare the number of fatalities against the number of hours flown. It may be that there are more deaths because people are flying more but that, over all, we’re having fewer accidents per thousand hours, etc. Paul’s report doesn’t supply that information.
Fewer regulations are not necessarily indicative of a lax safety attitude. In fact, fewer regulations that are easier to learn & follow often lead to a safer environment. It seems of late that CASAs view on air safety is that we’d be safest if no-one actually flew. RAAus has been working hard to safely get more people flying once again and it is no surprise that the Recreational space is growing while the CASA controlled flight training environments are shrinking.
The increase in aviation related deaths, while still tiny compared to Australia’s annual road toll, is a trigger that we should be reviewing our procedures & processes in general. From this review we can determine where it may be necessary to educate to address common factors or revise procedures.
Combining information about increased fatalities with references to RAAus having fewer regulations and wanting to increase its area of control only serves to make me wonder about Paul’s motives in writing this story.