I know that some manufacturers both sell kit and finished version of their aircraft. For a fair comparison of accident rates, i was wondering:

What are the accident rates for kit built aircraft vs. normal aircraft of the same model?

Are the home-builds less safe than the company finished aircraft?


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau did a report titled:

Amateur-built aircraft Part 2: Analysis of accidents involving VH-registered non-factory-built aeroplanes 1988-2010

This report specifically covers this and found that the accident rate was three times higher in kit built -vs- similar factory build aircraft:

What did this report do

The ATSB investigated the safety history of amateur-built aircraft in Australia through analysis of accident data held in the ATSB’s occurrence database from 1988 to 2010. Comparisons were made between accidents involving amateur-built aircraft and those involving similar factory-built aircraft to help identify whether the rate and types of accidents differed between these two groups of aircraft.

What the ATSB found

Amateur-built aircraft had an accident rate three times higher than comparable factory-built certified aircraft conducting similar flight operations between 1988 and 2010. The fatal and serious injury accident rate was over five times higher in amateur-built aircraft, in particular due to relatively more serious injury accidents. The pilots of amateur-built aircraft involved in accidents were significantly more experienced overall than factory-built aircraft accident pilots. However, they were significantly less experienced on the aircraft type that they were flying at the time of the accident.

Over half of the accidents were precipitated by mechanical events, which were mainly complete or partial engine failures. Following the amateur-built phase one test period, mechanical failures were still significantly more common when compared with factory-built aircraft. A quarter of accidents were from loss of aircraft control. Structural failures were not common precursors in amateur-built aircraft. Collision with terrain and forced landing accidents were more frequent in amateur-built aircraft. Collisions with terrain, hard landings, and runway excursions were more likely to result in a serious injury from an amateur-built aircraft accident than for factory-built accidents.

On the other hand, the EAA says that homebuilt aircraft have an accident rate of less than 1% higher than the general aviation fleet in their FAQ, but this didn't compare homebuilt to factory built in similar models:

How Safe Are Amateur-Built/Homebuilt Aircraft?

Studies by FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show that Amateur-Built/Homebuilt aircraft have an accident rate less than one percentage point higher than the general aviation fleet. In fact, the accident rate for Amateur-Built/homebuilt aircraft is dropping. The total number of registered homebuilt aircraft is increasing by about 1,000 per year, while the total number of accidents has stayed virtually the same. Another good barometer of safety is insurance rates. Companies that insure both homebuilts and production aircraft charge about the same rates for owners of either type of airplane. That indicates a similar level of risk.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Should that be 'FAA' rather than 'EAA?' $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Aug 28 '14 at 19:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @reirab No, EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association and the specialize in aircraft like kit built airplanes. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Aug 28 '14 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ ah, ok, thanks. I didn't notice the link there when I read it the first time. I guess that would have answered my question. I just noticed the quote immediately after it referring to studies by the FAA. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Aug 28 '14 at 20:17

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