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Aviation Safety Statistics

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Category: Safety Management Safety Management
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Content control: EUROCONTROL EUROCONTROL

Latest Published Statistical Summaries

ICAO 2014 Safety Review
ICAO 2014 Safety Review
IATA Safety Report 2013
IATA Safety Report 2013
Boeing: Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents 1959-2012
Boeing STATSUM 1959-2012
EASA Annual Safety Review 2013
EASA Annual Safety Review: 2013
UK CAA CAP1036 Global Fatal Accident Review 2002-2011
UK CAA Global Fatal Accident Review 2002-2011

Description

Because of the volume and variable integrity of global aviation safety data, analysis of safety data usually involves setting boundaries and limitations to the data set. Therefore, any interpretation of these analyses needs to be mindful of the boundaries applied to the data. Comparison of similar analyses based on differently bounded data sets can sometimes highlight interesting issues. For example, statistics presented by Boeing cover accidents involving Western Built aircraft over 60,000 lb. Such analyses therefore include most commercial jets but do not necessarily provide an insight into the safety performance of the wider aviation system. Inevitably perhaps, analysis of safety data, and the way that analysis is presented, is influenced by the issues of the day. It is therefore difficult to compare statistical presentations produced today with those produced 10 years ago, but that difference in presentation can again reveal changes in the way the public, regulators, and the industry view safety performance.

All of this means that when looking at statistics, it is important to know the boundaries applied to the data and consider what the statistics do not show as much as what they do.

Data Boundaries

Type of flight Databases used for statistical purposes normally include only events to aircraft undertaking flights for the purposes of commercial aviation to carry passengers cargo or mail.

Injury Sustained

  • Fatality - death consequent upon an aircraft accident is classified by ICAO as such if it occurs within 30 days of the accident and this definition is usually adopted by others.
  • Serious Injury - injury consequent upon an aircraft accident or serious incident is commonly classified as serious if it results in hospitalisation for more than 48 hours which commences within 7 days of the event.

Extent of Aircraft Damage

  • Substantial Damage - usually taken as damage or structural failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance ot flight characteristics of an aircraft and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component(s).

Nature of Event

The following classifications are typically employed:

  • Accident" - as defined in ICAO Annex 13
  • Major Accident – An accident in which any of the following conditions is met: The aircraft was destroyed; or there were multiple fatalities; or there was one fatality and the aircraft was substantially damaged.
  • Fatal Accident - An accident that results in at least one fatal injury, where death was not due to natural causes or self inflicted injuries, or injuries inflicted by other passengers, and was not due to a malicious act such as terrorism.
  • Hull Loss – An aircraft is totally destroyed or assessed to have been damaged beyond economic repair. Assessment as a hull loss is always affected by the age (measured in any or all of years-since-new, cycles flown or landings made) of the damaged aircraft and sometimes by the concern of the operator to avoid the 'public declaration of a hull loss.
  • Total Loss/Constructive Total Loss - Statistical data which originates in the insurance market is traditionally a very reliable source of data. Insurers use the terms "Total Loss" and "Constructive Total Loss" which is not quite the same as Hull Loss.

Geographical Boundary

  • ICAO Regions are the most often used regional definition. The assignment of region to an accident may be the based on the location of the occurrence or on the state of the Operator as defined by their AOC.
  • There is a particular difficulty with the 'definition' of Europe which may include, amongst other options ECAC, EU, EASA Member States or JAA. Political and regulatory evolution in Europe means that these definitions have themselves appeared, disappeared or varied over time.

Aircraft Weight

  • For fixed wing aircraft, the main distinction employed is between jets and turboprops. In both cases. 5,700 kg / 12,500 lb is commonly used as a lower limit for inclusion in statistical databases. However, ICAO have now (2014)begun to include statistics for aircraft below 5700kg.

Domicile of Aircraft Design

  • Western/Eastern-built Aircraft - some statistics make this distinction or exclude the latter altogether because data for many operations of Eastern-built aircraft (those designed in CIS countries or in the Peoples Republic of China) have historically been unavailable or unreliable.

Safety Trends

In global terms, the accident rate has been declining steadily ever since the 1950s.

The year-over-year accident statistics indicate a reduction in the overall number of accidents as well as the accident rate, a positive trend for air transportation safety. Compared to 2012, the number of accidents (as defined in ICAO Annex 13 involving aircraft with a maximum certificated take-off weight of over 5700kg) decreased by 10% in 2013. In addition, the global accident rate involving scheduled commercial operations decreased by 13%, from 3.2 accidents per million departures in 2012 to 2.8 accidents per million departures in 2013.

Accident Records: 2009–2013 Scheduled Commercial Flights, Source:ICAO Safety Report 2014 Edition

The IATA Safety Report 2013 (issued in April 2014) is focused on the commercial air transport industry and uses more restrictive criteria than the ICAO Annex 13 accident definitions do. In total, 81 accidents met the IATA accident criteria in 2013. For large commercial airliners, a small number of accidents account for the majority of fatalities each year.

IATA commercial air transport industry safety trends, Source: IATA Safety Report 2013

Sources of Statistical Information

Further Reading

  • "Down Time" - article by James Burin in the February 2012 edition of AeroSafety World.
  • "CFIT's Unwelcome Return" - article by James Burin in the February 2013 edition of AeroSafety World.


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