Background: Sports aviation is a special category of general aviation characterized by diverse aircraft types and a predominantly recreational flight operation. A general comparison of aircraft accidents within sports aviation is missing, but should guide future research. Methods: A comparison of accidents in sports aviation was made using 2118 records from the National Transportation Safety Board for the period 1982-2007. In addition, the available denominator data from the Federal Aviation Administration were used to interpret the data. Results: The highest number of accidents was found with gliders (N = 991), but the highest relative number of fatal accidents came from ultra-light (45%) and gyroplane operations (40%), which are homebuilt more often than other aircraft types. The most common cause of accident in sports aviation was in-flight planning and decision-making (N = 200, 9.4%). The most frequent occurrences were hard landings and undershoots, of which the numbers differ significantly from one aircraft type to the other. Conclusions: Homebuilt aircraft are at particular risk in sports aviation. Although denominator data remain problematic for motorized sports aviation, these aircraft show a high proportion of homebuilt aircraft and, more importantly, a higher relative number of fatal accidents.
- DENOMINATOR DATA
- light-sport aircraft