The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that aviation safety performance for 2010 shows 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 percent 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, according to the association.
"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.
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 percent of all accidents in 2010 (vs. 26% in 2009). The number of industry runway excursions accidents dropped by 13 percent (20 vs. 23 in 2009) and IATA members have reduced their runway excursion accidents by 43 percent since 2008 (4 vs. 7 in 2008).
IATA analysis shows about 35 percent of runway excursions on landing occurred on wet runways. Another leading cause of runway excursions on landing is an “unstable approach,” where the aircraft is approaching too fast, too high, or touches down beyond the desired runway touchdown point. IATA is working with industry and regulators to address this safety challenge. “Safety is not a competitive issue—among carriers or governments. Improvement is in everybody’s interest. By sharing data and best practices we will continue to drive improvements to make a safe industry even safer,” said Bisignani.