During the last century, general aviation (GA), including rotorcraft, has grown from humble beginnings into a mature safe transportation system. The high levels of safety achieved in GA were made possible through the combined efforts of all members of the GA community: manufacturers, owners, operators, maintainers, academia, and regulators.
The 1990s saw a lifeless GA industry begin another growth cycle. As we move into the 21st century it is important that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Small Airplane Directorate (SAD) participate with manufacturers and the GA community to raise the level of safety. This importance goes beyond preventing accidents, which is the SAD's primary goal. Our role in the health of GA is to work with manufacturers and GA organisations to determine the most effective (value verses cost) ways to reduce accidents in both the existing fleet and new aeroplane. Safety is an important component to the overall value of an aeroplane and has become an important selling point for new aeroplane designs. It is vital that the SAD, working with industry and organisations, improve the small aeroplane safety record if the GA market is to grow beyond the enthusiast market.