Homebuilt aircraft crashes

Arne Hasselquist, Susan P. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: While the number of general aviation crashes has decreased over the 5 yr prior to 1993, the total number of homebuilt aircraft crashes has increased by nearly 25%. Research was undertaken to analyze these crashes and identify causal factors or unique problems associated with homebuilt aircraft. Methods: Some 200 National Transportation Safety Board computer records and two-page descriptive briefs were analyzed for homebuilt aircraft crashes during 1993. Using descriptive epidemiology, variables were looked at in detail and comparisons were made with general aviation crashes during the same year. Results: Despite accounting for only 3% of all hours flown in general aviation certified aircraft for 1993, homebuilt aircraft accounted for 10% of the crashes and experienced a higher fatal crash rate. Crashes due to mechanical failure and crashes on takeoff and climb were more common in homebuilt aircraft as compared with general aviation. Other significant causal factors for homebuilt aircraft crashes included: minimal flight time in type specific aircraft, improper maintenance and improper design or assembly. Conclusions: Greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating homebuilt aircraft owners in the importance of following Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for certification and air worthiness testing. Understanding the aircraft's specifications and design limitations prior to the initial flight and properly maintaining the aircraft should also help to reverse the trend in the number of these crashes and subsequent lives lost. A system for assuring that all homebuilt aircraft are certified and more accurate reporting of flight hours are needed for accurate tracking of homebuilt aircraft crash rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-547
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Amateur-built
  • Homebuilt aircraft
  • Ultralight aircraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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