WORLDWIDE – Although not purely a freight related matter the latest safety data made public by IATA (International Air Transport Association) in relation to the carriage of both cargo and passengers by air may be of some interest to many readers. IATA members represent 84% of global traffic and the accident statistics released today are in anticipation of final audited figures due for release on the 12th April 2012. The preliminary figures show that the 2011 accident rate for Western-built jets was the lowest in aviation history, surpassing the previous mark set a year earlier.
The 2011 global accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jets) was 0.37, the equivalent of one accident every 2.7 million flights. This represented a 39% improvement compared to 2010, when the accident rate was 0.61, or one accident for every 1.6 million flights. A hull loss is an accident in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and not subsequently repaired for whatever reason including a financial decision by the owner.
IOSA, the Associations operational safety audit, was introduced in 2003 and is now a condition of IATA membership, and any airline wishing to join IATA must first complete IOSA. IATA member airlines outperformed the industry average for accidents of all aircraft types by 23% (1.84 accidents per million flights compared to 2.40). The IATA Western-built jet hull loss rate, at 0.41 accidents per million flights, was slightly higher than the average for the industry. Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO points out that IOSA registered airlines flew 64% of all commercial flights in 2011, and that IOSA now includes 68 Safety Management System (SMS) standards that provide a baseline SMS assessment saying:
“The accident rate for airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry was 52% better than for non-IOSA operators. These numbers show that IOSA is helping to drive safety improvements for the entire industry, not just IATA member airlines. Of the 369 airlines on the IOSA registry, 130, or 35% of the total, are non-IATA member airlines.
“Safety is the air transport industry’s number one priority. It is also a team effort. The entire stakeholder community—airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and safety regulators--works together every day to make the skies safer based on global standards. As a result, flying is one of the safest things that a person could do. But, every accident is one too many, and each fatality is a human tragedy. The ultimate goal of zero accidents keeps everyone involved in aviation focused on building an ever safer industry.”
Safety by the numbers: 2.8 billion people flew safely on 38 million flights with a drop in fatality rate to 0.07 per million passengers from 0.21 in 2010 based on Western-built jet operations which saw 11 hull loss accidents against 17 the previous year and 5 fatal hull losses (8). Overall Eastern and Western built aircraft suffered 92 accidents in 2011 (94 in 2010) with 22 fatal accidents versus 23 in 2010 and 486 fatalities compared to 786 a year earlier.
Geography is one of the biggest factors which is demonstrated by the results of the survey. The total number of accidents for African airlines dropped from 18 in 2010 to 8 in 2011. The total accident rate for African airlines that are on the IOSA registry was almost equivalent to the world average, while the accident rate for airlines that are not on the IOSA registry was more than five times as high. The same trend occurred in the CIS, where the accident rate for IOSA-registered airlines was more than five times better than the rate for non-IOSA registered airlines.
The most common type of accidents were those in which aircraft departed a runway during a landing or takeoff making up 18% of the total (down from 21% in 2010). Ground damage made up another 16%, up from 11% and IATA says that data sharing is helping to identify and reduce risks. In 2010 the International Civil Aviation Organization, the US Department of Transportation and the European Commission agreed with IATA to create the Global Safety Information Exchange (GSIE). This was enriched in 2011 with the addition of databases covering ground damage and flight data. Tony Tyler continues:
“The wider that we cast our net to collect safety information, the more effective we can be in allocating resources to mitigate identified risks. Further developing GSIE is a model for international cooperation that continues aviation’s great tradition in this area. Aviation’s good record is not the result of complacency and the strong performance in 2011 should not distract us from the need for continuous improvement to drive the accident rate even lower. An even safer future will be built on the foundation stones of global standards, cooperation between industry and government and information sharing.”
IATA’s Global Safety Information Center (GSIC) provides trend analysis that helps the industry improve performance and the Association populates the GSIC through its key safety initiatives: IATA Safety Reports, the Safety Trend Evaluation, Analysis & Data Exchange System (STEADES), findings from the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program, findings from the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO), the aircraft ground damage database (GDDB) and IATA Flight Data eXchange (FDX).
For example, the new Flight Data eXchange (FDX) system within the GSIC tracks unstable approach performance for the more than 700 airports in the database. Sharing such safety data complements the work of the Runway Excursion Risk Reduction (RERR) Toolkit, the second edition of which was launched in May 2011, and fuels global efforts to find solutions.