While there were no fatal accidents involving European commercial aircraft operators in 2019, the sector did see a rate of nonfatal accidents that was higher than the annual average of the previous 10-year period, according to the latest Annual Safety Review published by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The report, released on July 30, recorded 27 nonfatal accidents involving airline, air taxi, and cargo operations with aircraft weighing more than 5,700 kg (12,540 pounds), which compared with an annual average of just over 22 between 2009-2018.
The review also recorded an increase in the number of serious incidents in the commercial air transport sector, which reached 117 in 2019, compared with an average of just over 86 per year in 2009-2018. However, last year, there were no fatal accidents involving holders of EASA air operator certificates.
EASA uses the findings from each annual safety review to update its European Plan for Aviation Safety. The current plan, which runs from 2020-2024, is due to be revised in the fourth quarter of this year.
The agency noted the increase in serious incidents recorded since 2016 is in part due to the more stringent classification of separation minima infringements by EASA member states and their safety investigation authorities under European Union regulation 376/2014. The report provides a detailed breakdown of incidents by the phase of flight, as well as identifying the main areas of safety risk.
In his introduction to the 2020 review, EASA executive director Patrick Ky said that the agency has used its established safety management system to help the aviation sector to respond to safety issues specifically posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also referred to the prolonged grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max airliner, commenting that while the two fatal accidents that prompted this move contrasted with “otherwise very good safety data,” the issue has required some aspects of the global aviation safety system to be “critically examined.”