Central and Eastern Europe would benefit greatly from an increased availability of reliable on-demand air transport from light business aircraft (LBA). However, before this can happen, LBAs must achieve a safety record that approaches that of professionally flown two-pilot corporate aircraft and scheduled airlines. The challenge, of course, is that the on-demand business model favours single-pilot crews.
“Cities in Central Europe not currently served or are under served by scheduled airlines are now accessible by on-demand air taxis using single-engine turboprops with a single pilot,” says Wright Aviation Solutions President Robert Wright. “Public acceptance of this kind of service will depend on how well risks are managed by operators and single-pilot crews.”
According to Wright, the current accident rate of single-pilot LBAs is several times greater than that of corporate aircraft flown by two-pilot professional crews. However, Wright cautions that conventional accident analysis often do not reveal the real cause of accidents. According to his analysis of fatal business aviation accidents in the US from 2006 to 2009, 71% of the accidents studied were fundamentally the result of poor pilot risk management.
In a move in the right direction, the NBAA’s Safety Committee recently launched a risk management tool for single-pilot LBA operators. It is also developing other actions to address single-pilot safety concerns.