The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has refuted claims that the commercial aviation accident rate in Australia is increasing and that the number of fatalities involving professional pilots in the country over the last three years is high compared with before 1990.
ATSB executive director Kym Bills commissioned a research paper into Australian aviation fatalities following claims by former Civil Aviation Safety Authority chairman Dick Smith that Australian skies are unsafe after the loss of 24 lives in aircraft crashes in the past 13 months.
The ATSB says that even using the broadest definition of commercial aviation, to include regular public transport and general aviation but not business/private and sport aviation, there has been a “significant decrease” in the number of fatal accidents between 1990 and 2005. The ATSB says its data also shows no significant trend in fatalities involving professional pilots from 1990 to 2005, but rather a significant decline.
Between 1990 and 2004 (the last year for which data is activity available), commercial aviation operations recorded an average of 0.6 fatal accidents per 100,000h flown compared with 2.4 fatal accidents per 100,000h flown for non-commercial operations. The highest number of fatal accidents (30) and fatalities (64) was in 1990, while the lowest was in 2002 (10 and 11) and 2004 (24 and 23). Although the number of fatal accidents and fatalities rose in 2005 (13 and 34 respectively), the figures were still below the annual average for the 16-year period, says the ATSB.
Source: Flight International