IATA: West Shows Lowest Accident Rate, Ever

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The accident rate for Western-built jet aircraft in 2010 was the lowest in aviation history, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) announced this week. The data measured hull losses, which occur when an accident destroys an aircraft or damages an aircraft beyond repair. In 2010, for every one million flights of Western-built jet aircraft, IATA says the global figure for hull losses was 0.61 -- that's one accident per 1.6 million flights. And that figure bests the previous low set in 2006, when the rate was 0.65. According to IATA, the data translates to the safe carriage of 2.4 billion people flying on 36.8 million flights (split as 28.4 million jet and 8.4 million turboprop operations). That said, the number of fatalities was up in 2010, and safety of flight was significantly different depending on the geographic region of operation.

In 2009, IATA says there were 685 fatalities on jet flights, versus 786 in 2010. Those figures correspond with 23 fatal accidents in all aircraft types during 2010, versus 18 in 2009. Hull losses recorded for Western-built jets operating in North America were 0.10, while those Africa's rate was 7.41 (still an improvement over the rate of 9.94 carried by Africa in 2009). The global average for hull losses was listed at 0.61 per million flights, according to IATA. Commenting on the regional disparity of hull losses, director general and CEO of IATA Giovanni Bisignani said, "Flying must be equally safe in all parts of the world. An accident rate in Africa that is over 12 times the global average is not acceptable." Bisignani encouraged governments worldwide to "make use of the IOSA [operational safety audit] tool," offered by IATA. According to Bisignani, carriers using IOSA in Africa had an accident rate more than 50 percent better than non-IOSA carriers.