Airline fatal accident figures for 2010 confirm that safety in the industry, which had improved constantly from 1903 to 2003, has stagnated for the past eight years. The number of airline deaths last year was above the decade average.

In 2010 there were 26 fatal airline accidents, causing the deaths of 817 passengers and crew. This includes all types of airline operation, including scheduled and non-scheduled passenger flights, jet and turboprop, and non-passenger operations such as pure freight or positioning flights.

World airline fatal accidents 2001-2010

This compares with 2009's figures of 28 accidents causing 749 deaths.

An indication that airline safety could still be improved considerably comes from the performance of International Air Transport Association member airlines, whose accident rate fell dramatically last year.

The hull-loss accident rate for IATA carriers dropped to an all-time low of 0.28 hull losses per million flights, whereas the world average remained fairly static at 0.66. That figure was an IATA snapshot of 2010 accident statistics at 30 November, but since then there have been no accidents involving IATA carriers, so the final IATA rate may improve further.

Western built jet hull loss rate 2000-2010

  • Flight International's 18-24 January issue will contain an in-depth analysis of global airline safety in 2010, plus a list of the world's commercial air transport accidents.

Source: Flight International