Jonathan Wanzer wrote:
My thought about using the NTSB data was to look for particular quirks with a given aircraft, using that to be forewarned about a pending hazard and then to examine that flight regimen more cautiously and throughly than you might otherwise.
The problem with that approach is that the sample size for all but the most-popular homebuilts is pretty low, and the NTSB reports usually don't go into fine enough detail.
For instance, my ten-year database of homebuilt accidents (1998-2007) includes only ten Volksplane accidents. Two of them were first flights. On one, the builder had installed a 1200 cc engine rather than the more-typical 1600 cc, and failed to abort the takeoff when the plane wouldn't climb (NYC04LA008). The other was due to an incorrectly-adjusted propeller (DEN01LA020).
The detail part is a bit more subtle. Say, for instance, the airplane has a very vicious stall and that causes a couple of first-flight accidents. The NTSB reports are merely going to say, "Probable Cause: Pilot's failure to maintain airspeed." You don't really know if it's a training thing, or something wrong with the airplane.
Ideally, you might find that all the airplanes turned to a particular side as they stalled. This might indicate a common rigging problem. But, again, first-flight accidents are so rare as to minimize the number of cases you can examine.
I've attached my database's summary page for Volksplane accidents. Six were VP-1s, four were VP-2s. What catches my eye is the median hours in type...half of the Volksplane accidents happened to pilots with three hours or fewer in the airplane. Note that it shows about 2/3rds of the VP accidents occuring on takeoff. This is a bit deceptive; this only four of the ten accidents. The percentage is of the number of the accidents where the NTSB Report included the phase of flight, and they did not on several of them. Still, that's at least 40% of the total accidents, vs. ~25% for the overall fleet.
Files Attachment(s):VP 1998-2007.pdf