IATA Sees Role for the Association in Accident Investigations

 - December 12, 2018, 12:58 PM

The International Air Transport Association has approached the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Aviation Safety Agency with a suggestion that it assumes a role in accident investigations, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac revealed Wednesday. “I believe we can bring extensive operational expertise and we have an independent view,” he told reporters at the IATA global media day in Geneva. IATA has not yet formally requested an investigatory role with ICAO, but, said de Juniac, it is “exploring the idea.”

“The OEMs are always involved and have built know how, but often it is the first time for an airline. The expertise from IATA could be useful,” de Juniac said while pointing to the experience he gained in his former role as CEO of Air France-KLM. The company launched two internal safety audits following the crash into the Atlantic Ocean of Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330-200 carrying 228 people, on June 1, 2009. “We learned a lot from it to improve our safety culture,” he told AIN.

IATA also believes not all accidents and incidents undergo proper investigation because of a lack of funds, said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA’s senior vice president for safety and flight operations.

The idea comes on the heels of a disappointing year for aviation safety. Data from the Accident Classification Technical Group (ACTG)—a group consisting of airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and other industry experts—show 32 accidents during the first six months of 2018, including five hull losses involving two jet aircraft and three turboprops. Five fatal accidents accounted for 301 fatalities. IATA member airlines accounted for nine accidents.

Of eight IATA regions, four—North America, Europe, the Middle East/ North Africa, and Latin America/Caribbean—saw an increase in accident rates compared with 2017. Sub-Saharan Africa, in contrast, continued to show strong progress on safety with zero hull losses and zero fatal accidents in the first half.

Figures for the second half remain approximate. “We know there were six fatal accidents [in the second half], which accounted for 216 fatalities, bringing the total number of fatalities for this year to 517,” noted Lopez Meyer. The Lion Air crash that occurred in late October accounted for a big number of the deaths.

The safety performance in the first half of 2018 worsened compared with the previous year, when the industry registered no fatalities on passenger jets. “But there have been major improvements compared to ten years ago,” Lopez Meyer said, emphasizing that one must consider safety trends over years, not a single 12-month view. Still, he said, this year’s performance shows that safety is “a marathon with no finish line.”