Aviation

Good news for nervous passengers: flying’s safer than ever

Anne Majumdar

There were 136 fatalities as a result of aviation accidents in 2015, a substantial decrease on the 641 of the previous year, as the majority of regions saw their safety performance improve.

New data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that the number of fatalities for the year was also significantly down on the previous five year average of 504 measured between 2010 and 2014.

The number of fatal accidents declined from 12 in 2014 to four last year, again a massive decrease on the previous five year average of 17.6. All four involved turboprop aircraft.

Meanwhile, the number of hull loss accidents per million jet flights rose slightly to 0.32 as compared with the 0.27 of the previous year. Even with the increase, the figure still marked a 30% improvement of the previous five year rate of 0.46.

The one region to see a decline in its jet air safety performance according to the data was North America, with Asia Pacific seeing an improved figure of 0.21 as compared with the five year average of 0.56.

North Asia performed the worst on the turboprop front, with the accident rate rising to 25.19 compared with the five year average of 5.90. But overall the world turboprop hull loss rate improved to 1.29 hull losses per million flights in 2015 compared to 3.95 in the five years 2010-2014.

“2015 was another year of contrasts when it comes to aviation’s safety performance,” IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said.

“In terms of the number of fatal accidents, it was an extraordinarily safe year. And the long-term trend data show us that flying is getting even safer.”

Although the loss of Germanwings flight 9525 due to pilot suicide and Metrojet 9268 as the result of suspected terrorism were among the tragedies that befell the world of commercial aviation in 2015, they were not factored into the results due to their classification as “deliberate acts of unlawful interference”.

“While there are no easy solutions to the mental health and security issues that were exposed in these tragedies, aviation continues to work to minimize the risk that such events will happen again,” Tyler said.

Even with these two incidents included, the number of fatalities for the year totalled 510 – still lower than the previous year’s 641.

Tyler added to the list of the “unthinkable” events of the last two years by mentioning the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft and the downing of another Malaysia Airlines aircraft by a missile.

“There are no simple solutions to the issues raised by these terrible tragedies,” he said.

“But we must honor those who lost their lives, and their friends and loved ones, by re-dedicating ourselves to making flying even safer. Working with our partners in government and industry will drive improvements based on global standards and best practices.”

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