Despite two high profile crashes, the aviation industry recorded its safest year yet, according to the 2014 safety performance report issued by the International Air Transport Association on Monday (IATA).
- The 2014 global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.23, which was the lowest rate in history and the equivalent of one accident for every 4.4 million flights. This was an improvement over 2013 when the global hull loss rate stood at 0.41 (an average of one accident every 2.4 million flights) and also an improvement over the five-year rate (2009-2013) of 0.58 hull loss accidents per million flights jet.
- There were 12 fatal accidents involving all aircraft types in 2014 with 641 fatalities, compared with an average of 19 fatal accidents and 517 fatalities per year in the five-year period (2009-2013).
- The 2014 jet hull loss rate for members of IATA was 0.12 (one accident for every 8.3 million flights), which outperformed the global average by 48% and which showed significant improvement over the five-year rate of 0.33.
“Any accident is one too many and safety is always aviation’s top priority. While aviation safety was in the headlines in 2014, the data show that flying continues to improve its safety performance,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
MH 370 and MH 17
The year 2014 will be remembered for two extraordinary and tragic events—MH 370 and MH 17. Although the reasons for the disappearance and loss of MH 370 are unknown, it is classified as a fatal accident—one of 12 in 2014. The aviation industry has welcomed the proposal by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to move towards the adoption of a performance-based standard for global tracking of commercial aircraft, supported by multi-national operational assessments to evaluate impact and guide implementation.
The destruction of MH 17 by anti-aircraft weaponry, however, is not included as an accident under globally-recognized accident classification criteria. The four aircraft involved in the events of 9.11 were treated in the same way.
“The shooting down of MH 17 took with it 298 lives in an act of aggression that is by any measure unacceptable. Governments and industry have come together to find ways to reduce the risk of over-flying conflict zones. This includes better sharing of critical information about security risks to civil aviation. And we are calling on governments to find an international mechanism to regulate the design, manufacture and deployment of weapons with anti-aircraft capabilities,” said Tyler.
“To the flying public an air tragedy is an air tragedy, regardless of how it is classified. In 2014 we saw a reduction in the number of fatal accidents—and that would be true even if we were to include MH 17 in the total. The greatest tribute that we can pay to those who lost their lives in aviation-related tragedies is to continue our dedication to make flying ever safer. And that is exactly what we are doing,” said Tyler.
2014 Safety by the numbers:
- More than 3.3 billion people flew safely on 38.0 million flights (30.6 million by jet, 7.4 million by turboprop)
- 73 accidents (all aircraft types), down from 81 in 2013 and the five-year average of 86 per year
- 12 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 16 in 2013 and the five-year average of 19
- 16% of all accidents were fatal, below the five-year average of 22%
- 7 hull loss accidents involving jets compared to 12 in 2013 and the five-year average of 16
- Three fatal hull loss accidents involving jets, down from six in 2013, and the five-year average of eight
- 17 hull loss accidents involving turboprops of which nine were fatal
- 641 fatalities compared to 210 fatalities in 2013 and the five-year average of 517
Jet hull loss rates by region of operator
- All regions but one showed improvement in 2014 when compared to 2013. The exception is Europe which maintained the rate of 0.15 jet hull losses per 1 million sectors.
- All regions saw their safety performance improve in 2014 compared to the respective five-year rate 2009-2013 as follows:
- Africa (from 6.83 to 0.00) ;
- Asia-Pacific (from 0.63 to 0.44);
- CIS (from 2.74 to 0.83);
- Europe (from 0.24 to 0.15);
- Latin America and the Caribbean (from 0.87 to 0.41);
- Middle East-North Africa (1.82 to 0.63);
- North America (from 0.20 to 0.11)
- North Asia (from 0.06 to 0.00).
- CIS had the worst performance (0.83) among regions, but it showed strong improvement over three consecutive years: 6.34 (2011), 1.91 (2012), 1.79 (2013).
Turboprop hull loss rates by region of operator
- The world turboprop hull loss rate improved to 2.30 hull losses per million flights in 2014 compared to 2.78 in the five years 2009-2013.
- The following regions saw their turboprop safety performance improve in 2014 when compared to the respective five-year rate: Asia-Pacific (from 2.16 to 0.00); CIS (from 12.12 to 11.95); Europe (from 1.46 to 0.71); Latin America and the Caribbean (from 4.53 to 1.21); Middle East-North Africa (from 7.91 to 7.17).
- Africa had the worst performance (14.13 hull losses per million flights) in 2014 for turboprop hull losses, which exceeded the region’s five-year rate of 9.62. There are relatively few turboprop operations in North Asia so the single turboprop hull loss experienced in the region in 2014 caused the turboprop hull loss rate to rise to 11.28 compared to the five-year rate of. 2.41. North America also saw a deterioration in 2014 compared to the preceding five years (1.19 vs. 1.02).
Airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Registry experienced three jet hull loss accidents and one turboprop hull loss accident. The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA-registered carriers was more than three times better than the rate for non-IOSA carriers (1.09 vs. 3.32). As of 4 March 2015, 396 airlines are on the IOSA registry. For IATA’s 251 airlines, IOSA certification is a requirement for membership in the Association. That some 145 non-member airlines are also on the registry is evidence that IOSA is the global benchmark for airline operational safety management.
“The overall performance of IOSA airlines shows that the audits are among the factors having a positive impact on safety. Beginning this year, we have upgraded to Enhanced IOSA, which incorporates systems to monitor compliance across the two-year audit cycle. This is moving IOSA from a once-every-two-year snapshot to a continuous management process,” said Tyler.
There are operators that are not eligible for an IOSA either because they operate aircraft below 5,700 kg (12,566 lbs) maximum take-off weight, or because their business model does not allow conformity with other IOSA requirements. To address this segment of the industry, IATA has developed the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA). ISSA is not linked to IATA membership. Operators with aircraft above 5,700 kg MTOW will be eligible for one initial ISSA, after which the operator will be required to pursue an initial IOSA registration to stay on an IATA Audit registry.
“There is a clear need to ensure that operators of all types of equipment have robust safety infrastructure in place, which is validated by an operational safety audit. The ISSA will enable the industry to address the need for a global operational safety standard for operators that are not eligible for IOSA and I am confident that the ISSA standard will deliver a positive safety benefit in the same manner as has IOSA,” said Tyler.
Safety Improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan airlines had zero jet hull loss accidents in 2014. “Safety continues to be a challenge for Africa. The fact that the region experienced no jet hull loss accidents last year is real progress, in line with the objectives of the Abuja Declaration. However, the poor performance on turboprops demonstrates that significant challenges remain. Governments in the region need to accelerate implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS), according to the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). As of the end of 2014, only 14 African states had achieved 60% implementation of the SARPS. Making IOSA a part of the certification process certainly will help,” said Tyler. The 27 Sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry are performing more than 10 times better than non-IOSA operators in terms of all accidents (1.95 per million flights versus 19.62).
Safety in the CIS
CIS airlines on the IOSA registry experienced zero accidents in 2014 for a second consecutive year. For all airlines in the CIS, the jet hull loss rate in 2014 of 0.83 was a significant improvement over the five-year rate (2.74). However, this was well below world levels. “We are seeing steady improvement in the CIS but there still is work to be done, in alignment with IATA’s global Six Point Safety Strategy,” said Tyler.
Increased Focus on Turboprop Operations
The accident rate for operators of turboprop aircraft on the IOSA Registry was 0.47 hull losses per million flights or less than 1 hull loss accident for every 2 million flights. However, the overall rate was significantly higher (2.30 per million flights). IATA and other stakeholders are addressing this shortfall through increased focus on improved safety awareness, systems, training, and airport infrastructure serving this type of operation. Additionally, statistics show that operators in all sectors continue to deliver better safety performance when the operator’s operational infrastructure, including that of its safety management capabilities, is robust. Operational standards such as IOSA, which require this robust infrastructure are a key to safer operations.
Using Data Analysis to Drive Improvements
Historically, aviation safety has improved through a well-established process of accident investigations that identify the probable causes and recommend mitigation measures. However, as aviation becomes ever safer, there are so few accidents that they cannot yield the trend data that is vital to a systemic risk-based approach to improving safety. Future safety gains will come increasingly from analyzing data from the more than 38 million flights that operate safely every year, rather than just the handful of flights where something goes wrong.
To support this requirement, IATA has created the Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) program as a comprehensive safety data warehouse. GADM includes analysis reports covering accidents, incidents, ground damage, maintenance and audits, plus data from nearly 2 million flights and over 1 million air safety reports. More than 470 organizations, including more than 90% of IATA member airlines, are participating in at least one GADM database.
“The GADM program will enhance aviation’s ability to identify areas of concern before they rise to the level of potential threats. Stakeholders are committed to advancing safety through a data-driven approach supported by cooperation and reliance on global standards and best practices,” said Tyler.
Six-Point Safety Strategy
IATA’s Six Point Safety Strategy is a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify organizational, operational and emerging safety issues:
- Reducing operational risk
- Enhancing quality and compliance through audit programs
- Advocating for improved aviation infrastructure such as implementation of performance-based navigation approaches
- Supporting consistent implementation of Safety Management Systems
- Supporting effective recruitment and training to enhance quality and compliance through programs such as the IATA Quality and Training Initiative and ICAO’s Multi-crew Pilot License
- Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries
“The history of aviation is the story of continuous safety improvements. We must never lose sight of the need to maintain that dedication as we drive the accident rate lower using the data-driven approach that guides our Six Point Safety Strategy,” said Tyler.