IATA shows airliner safety has stopped improving

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The global average jet hull-loss accident rate has levelled out, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures, having been improving steadily from 1998 to 2006. Presenting figures for recent years to 1 December, the Western-built jet hull loss rate per million flights is 0.77 this year compared with 0.75 in 2007. The best-ever figure of 0.63 was in 2006.

IATA points out that the same effect is showing in the comparable accident rate for its member carriers - now all required to have completed an IATA operational safety audit by the end of 2008 - with 0.47 hull losses per million flights to 1 December this year compared with 0.68 in 2007, but its best-ever year was in 2005 at 0.43.

Preliminary IATA figures for world regions show that the poor performers include the CIS countries, which have gone from a zero rate per million flights in 2007 to 7.92 this year, making it the worst regional performer of all for Western jet hull losses. Meanwhile, Latin America has worsened year-on-year from 1.76 to 2.77, the Middle East and North Africa from 1.18 to 2.22, Europe from 0.32 to 0.45, and North America from 0.1 to 0.48. The regional improvers are southern Africa, moving from 4.46 to 2.11, Asia Pacific, down to 0.32 from 3.01, and north Asia (not including the CIS), which has improved from 0.97 to a zero accident rate per million flights.

IATA's senior vice-president safety, operations and infrastructure, Günther Matschnigg, says the association has a six-point plan for global safety improvement based on audit and data analysis, but also increasing pressure for infrastructure improvement. Director-general Giovanni Bisignani says Brazil is an example of a country improving its infrastructure. Following the fatal mid-air collision in 2006 between a Gol Boeing 737-800 and an Embraer Legacy business jet, it is committed to bringing its military-run air traffic management systems under civil control.

Among the accident causes, runway excursion topped the list, being responsible for 26% of hull losses. Ground damage came next at 19%, gear-up landings plus gear collapse events constituted 15%, and loss of control in flight 13%. Other categories such as hard landings, undershoot, controlled flight into terrain, in-flight damage and tailstrike were all in single figures.

IATA points out that the full annual figures will alter according to what happens in December.

 

 

 Hull losses per million flights*

Region  

2008  

 2007

CIS

7.92

 0

Latin America

2.77

 1.76

Middle East/North Africa

2.22

 1.18

Europe

0.45

 0.32

North America

0.48

 0.1

Southern Africa

2.11

 4.46

Asia Pacific

0.32

 3.01

North Asia

0

 0.97

 
*Years to 1 December, Western-built jets