Military Aircraft Safety:

Serious Accidents Remain at Historically Low Levels

NSIAD-98-95BR: Published: Mar 23, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1998.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on military aircraft safety, focusing on the: (1) number and rate of serious accidents, including related fatalities, destroyed aircraft, and the value of lost aircraft over the last 2 fiscal years; and (2) views of the Department of Defense (DOD) safety officials on whether operating tempo or availability of spare parts have been contributing factors to Class A mishaps.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, in fiscal years 1996 and 1997, the military achieved historically low levels of serious mishaps; (2) the number of Class A flight mishaps across DOD in fiscal year (FY) 1997 was 68, an all-time low, and the rate for mishaps per 100,000 flying hours remained virtually the same for the last 3 fiscal years at about 1.5; (3) while the number of fatalities rose from 85 in 1995 to 116 in 1996 due to several high-casualty mishaps, they declined in 1997 to 76, DOD's second lowest level ever; (4) the fatality rate per 100,000 flight hours shows annual fluctuations depending upon the types of aircraft involved, but it has been within the low end of its historic range over the last 10 years; (5) new lows on the number of destroyed aircraft and the rate of destroyed aircraft per 100,000 flight hours were also reached in FY 1997; and (6) the value of the aircraft lost reached its lowest level in the 1990s, $1.1 billion.

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