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Aircraft Accident Rate Is Lowest In History

Equivalent To One Accident For Every 1.6 Million Commercial Flights

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the aviation safety performance for 2010 showing that the year's accident rate for Western-built jet aircraft as the lowest in aviation history.

The 2010 global accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jet aircraft) was 0.61. That is equal to one accident for every 1.6 million flights. This is a significant improvement of the 0.71 rate recorded in 2009 (one accident for 1.4 million flights). The 2010 rate was the lowest in aviation history, just below the 2006 rate of 0.65. Compared to 10 years ago, the accident rate has been cut 42% from the rate recorded in 2001. A hull loss is an accident in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired.

"Safety is the number one priority. Achieving the lowest accident rate in the history of aviation shows that this commitment is bearing results. Flying is safe. But every fatality is a human tragedy that reminds us of the ultimate goal of zero accidents and zero fatalities. We must remain focused and determined to move closer to this goal year by year," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

In absolute numbers, 2010 saw the following results:

  • 2.4 billion people flew safely on 36.8 million flights (28.4 million jet, 8.4 million turboprop).
  • 17 hull loss accidents involving western-built jet aircraft compared to 19 in 2009.
  • 94 accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern and Western built) compared to 90 in 2009.
  • 23 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) compared to 18 in 2009.
  • 786 fatalities compared to 685 in 2009.

IATA member airlines outperformed the industry average with a Western-built jet hull loss rate of 0.25. That rate is equal to one accident for every 4 million flights. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) became a condition of IATA membership from 1 April 2009. All 234 IATA member airlines are now on the IOSA registry. The IOSA registry is open to all airlines and it currently consists of over 350 airlines.

"The numbers tell the story. In the first full year after the IOSA became a condition of IATA membership, the accident rate for IATA carriers has never been so low. The data confirms that IOSA is helping to drive safety improvements around the world. It is an important part of a comprehensive safety strategy involving governments and industry working together to further reduce the number of accidents and fatalities," said Bisignani (pictured).

There are significant regional differences in the Western built jet hull loss accident rate:

  • North America (0.10), Europe (0.45), North Asia (0.34) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (0.0) performed better than the global average of 0.61.
  • Asia-Pacific was higher than the global average at 0.80 in 2010 and about the same from the previous year (0.86).
  • The Middle East and North Africa region saw its accident rate fall significantly to 0.72 (compared to 3.32 in 2009) with only one accident involving a carrier from the region.
  • Latin America & the Caribbean reported a higher accident rate of 1.87 with four airlines from the region involved in accidents, compared with a zero accident rate in 2009.
  • Africa had an accident rate of 7.41, which was lower than the 2009 rate of 9.94. While showing improvement, Africa once again has the worst rate in the world. There were four Western-built jet hull losses with African carriers in 2010. African carriers are 2% of global traffic, but 23% of global western-built jet hull losses.

In 2010, the accident rate of IOSA carriers in Africa (for all aircraft types) was more than 50% better than non-IOSA airlines. Among IATA's efforts in Africa, it established the IATA Program for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA). IPSOA ensured that flight data analysis tools are available to all IATA carriers in Africa, and as of the last quarter of 2010, all IATA carriers have this essential safety tool in place. IPSOA will provide IATA with the data needed to develop safety programs targeted at specific challenges in the region.

"Flying must be equally safe in all parts of the world. An accident rate in Africa that is over 12 times the global average is not acceptable. Improvements can happen. IATA's African carriers performed significantly better than non-IATA airlines in the region. I encourage all governments in the region to make use of the IOSA tool to boost the region's performance," said Bisignani.

An analysis of the causes of the 2010 accidents focuses on several areas:

Runway excursions, which are instances when an aircraft departs the runway during takeoff or landing, were once again the most common cause of accidents, accounting for 21% of all accidents in 2010 (vs. 26% in 2009). The number of industry runway excursions accidents dropped by 13% (20 vs. 23 in 2009) and IATA members have reduced their runway excursion accidents by 43% since 2008 (4 vs. 7 in 2008).

In September 2010, IATA signed an historic agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the US Department of Transportation and the Commission of the European Union to launch the Global Safety Information Exchange. This first global private/public partnership will exchange safety information aimed at improving safety by reducing risk.

FMI: www.iata.org

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