In 2008, approximately 82 people were killed in airplane accidents involving "kit-built airplanes." These are planes that can be delivered to your home and you actually build the plane piece by piece. These types of airplanes accounted for 18 percent of all non-commercial airplane crashes in '08. Unfortunately, the death toll continues to mount.
The pilot of a homebuilt Long-EZ, fuel efficient, long range airplane was killed after crashing at Wakefield Municipal Airport in Wakefield, Virginia (VA), according to wjz.com. My deepest condolences go out to the pilot's family. He was 80 years old and a native of Pennsylvania (PA).
Here is a news report about the airplane crash...
At this time, no one knows what exactly caused the plane to crash. It can be difficult to immediately pinpoint a malfunction or error on the kit-built plane since there are so many different models. Plus, there appears to be an emphasis on speed rather than safety with these plane models.
For example, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) expressed concern that kit-built planes have design characteristics which make them fly much faster than most small planes. This can increase the risk of an accident during slow-speed operations close to the ground.
Given the continued loss of life from these types of planes, the FAA needs to look into standardizing the safety features on these homebuilt airplanes. As a licensed pilot, I understand the risks that someone takes when operating an aircraft and there's no need to exacerbate those risks by operating a questionable kit-built airplane.
To learn more about small airplane accidents and what's involved in the legal process after a crash, check out this free consumer report:
What You Need to Do If Hurt in An Airplane Accident