2012 touted as “safest year” in aviation history


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed that 2012 was the “safest year” on record in terms of the global accident rate for Western-built jets.

According to IATA, the 2012 global Western-built jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jets) was 0.20, the equivalent of one accident every 5 million flights. This figure represents an improvement of 46 percent over 2011’s accident rate.

“The industry’s 2012 record safety performance was the best in history,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Each day approximately 100,000 flights arrive safely at their destination. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and safety regulators work together to ensure every flight is as safe as possible. Their dedication and cooperation has made air travel remarkably safe.”

Even with this tremendous feat, however, the IATA director general wants to do even better, especially in areas of the world that has a beleaguered aviation safety record. “Nevertheless, there is still work to do. Every accident is one too many and each fatality is a human tragedy. The first commercial airline flight took place on January 1, 1914. Since then, the very first flight, the airline industry has made continuous improvement in safety its top priority.”

IATA is particularly concerned with Africa’s record. “Western-built jet hull loss rate showed a higher rate versus 2011 (3.71 vs. 3.27). The region’s accident rate for all aircraft types more than doubled (12.44 accidents per million flights from 6.17 in 2011), with 13 accidents in 2012 (up from 8 accidents in 2011).
African airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit Registry (IOSA) had no accidents.”

“Africa is a continent divided on performance. Airlines on the IOSA registry are performing at or above industry average rates. But the continent’s overall performance is far from satisfactory,” Tyler said. “It should be as safe to travel by air in Africa as it is in any other part of the world.”

IATA noted that in May 2012, it, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a host of other organizations “committed to an Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan aimed at addressing safety deficiencies and strengthening regulatory oversight in the region by 2015.”

According to IATA, the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan was endorsed as part of the “Abuja Declaration” by the Ministerial meeting on Aviation Safety and Security of the African Union in July and endorsed at the Assembly of the African Union in January 2013.

The IATA director general said: “Stakeholders are united in their commitment to bring all of Africa to world class safety levels through the adoption of global standards. Passage of the Abuja Declaration is a key step along this path.”

According to IATA, airlines on the IOSA registry experienced no Western-built jet hull loss accidents. “The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA registered carriers was 4.3 times better than the rate for non-IOSA carriers (0.96 vs. 4.11).”

Currently, there are 381 airlines are on the IOSA registry [ www.iata.org/registry ]. “For IATA’s 240+ airlines IOSA is a requirement for membership in the association. That some 140 non-member airlines are on the registry is a clear indication that IOSA has become the global benchmark for airline operational safety management.”

IATA has, therefore, has made it clear that “mandatory adoption of IOSA” by African states is critical to the success of the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan.

Safety by the numbers:

– Close to 3 billion people flew safely on 37.5 million flights (29.8 million by jet, 7.7 million by turboprop)

– 75 accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern and Western built), down from 92 in 2011

– 15 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 22 in 2011

– 6 hull loss accidents involving Western-built jets compared to 11 in 2011

– 3 fatal hull loss accidents involving Western-built jets, down from 5 in 2011

– 414 fatalities compared to 486 in 2011

– Fatality rate slightly increased to 0.08 per million passengers from 0.07 in 2011 based on Western-built jet operations