The Air Force and other
services do not see a correlation between hours of flying time and air accident
rates, witnesses told a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
Testifying before the
Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, they pointed to other factors, such
as changes in operational tempo, as more linked to increases in accident rates.
Duty Air Force units recently completed the operational safety review announced last month to
try to find causes in a series of aircraft mishaps and ways to improve safety.
Wednesday’s hearing, Air Force Maj. Gen. John Rauch, chief of safety and
commander of the Air Force Safety Center, told the committee that USAF looked at
the amount of flying time pilots in recent incidents had had, and " did not
see ... a correlation between those that have had a lot or a little [flying time] as it
relates to the Class As within recent times.”
The Air Force defines “Class A” mishaps as those that
involve property damage of $2 million or more, an injury or occupational
illness resulting in a fatality or permanent total disability, or destruction
of an Air Force aircraft.
Rauch cautioned that the numbers involved are small, so a connection
cannot be ruled out, but that looking at recent incidents, a correlation cannot
Army Brig. Gen. David Francis, commanding general of the
Army Combat Readiness Center and director of Army safety, also said his
service’s data does not show a correlation between flight hours and mishaps.
“What we can say is that our data does indicate that the
Army, Army aviation, has experienced the biggest spike in Class A mishaps in
conjunction with major combat operations,” he said.
During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as operations
in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, “especially during the initial
stages,” he said, “we experienced a major spike in Class A mishaps.”
Now, he said, the Army is focused on the “hard training “
that will be required to deal with a peer or near-peer threat, “which will
drive us to lower flight profiles and increased risk” to prevent the next such
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