IATA: Global Accident Rate Reaches New Low

 - March 12, 2012, 10:00 AM
North Asian carriers suffered no hull losses last year. (Photo: Boeing)

Statistics published last week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that Western jets registered their lowest accident rates in history in 2011, besting their previous record set just one year earlier. The 2011 global accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jets) finished at 0.37, the equivalent of one accident every 2.7 million flights, amounting to a 39-percent improvement over 2010, when the accident rate of 0.61 resulted from one accident for every 1.6 million flights.

IATA statistics showed 11 hull losses involving Western-built jets compared with 17 in 2010; 92 total accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern- and Western-built), compared with 94 a year earlier; five fatal hull loss accidents involving Western-built jets, down from eight; 22 fatal accidents (all aircraft types), versus 23; a total of 486 fatalities, compared with 786; and a drop in the fatality rate to 0.07 per million passengers from 0.21 for Western-built jet operations. All told, 2.8 billion people flew safely on 38 million flights (30 million by jet, 8 million by turboprop).

“The accident rate for airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit [IOSA] registry was 52 percent better than for non-IOSA operators,” noted IATA director general Tony Tyler. “These numbers show that IOSA is helping to drive safety improvements for the entire industry, not just IATA member airlines.”

Runway excursions accounted for the most accidents last year, at 18 percent of the total, said IATA. The figure amounts to a slight reduction from the rate in 2010, when runway excursions accounted for 21 percent of total accidents.  Despite industry growth, the absolute number of runway excursions decreased from 23 in 2009 to 20 in 2010 and 17 in 2011, said IATA. Eighty-eight percent of runway excursions occurred during landing. Unstable approaches and contaminated runways rank among the most common contributing factors to runway excursions on landing.

A regional review of hull loss rates showed that Asia Pacific (0.25), North America (0.10) and North Asia (0.0) performed better than the global average of 0.37, while the CIS finished worse, at 1.06. Although Latin America and the Caribbean performed better than in 2010 (1.28 versus 1.87), the region registered a rate 3.5 times worse than the global average. Finally, the rate for the Middle East and North Africa worsened to 2.02 from 0.72, while the rate for the rest of Africa improved to 3.27 from 7.41. Although Africa remained the worst performing region in the world, its IOSA-registered airlines suffered no hull losses.