Commercial aviation achieved unprecedentedly high safety levels last year

IATA director-general Willie Walsh

IATA director-general Willie Walsh

29th February 2024

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Last year saw aviation safety, in several parameters, record its best-ever results, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported. IATA, which is the global representative body for the airline industry, has released its 2023 Annual Safety Report.

There was not a single fatal accident involving jet airliners last year. Not one jet airliner became a hull loss. In all the world, commercial aviation suffered precisely one fatal accident, which involved a single turboprop airliner, which cost 72 lives, which was a loss-of-control during flight accident, in Nepal.

“2023 safety performance continues to demonstrate that flying is the safest mode of transport,” highlighted IATA director-general Willie Walsh. “Aviation places its highest priority on safety and that shows in the 2023 performance. Jet operations saw no hull losses or fatalities. 2023 also saw the lowest fatality risk and ‘all accident’ rate on record. A single fatal turboprop accident with 72 fatalities, however, reminds us that we can never take safety for granted. And two high-profile accidents in the first month of 2024 show that, even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve. This is what we have done throughput our history. And we will continue to make flying ever safer.”

Last year, the ‘all accident’ rate was 0.8 per million sectors flown, or one for every 1.26-million flights. This was the lowest rate in more than a decade and was better than the rate for the 2019-2023 five-year rolling average, which was 1.19 (or one accident for every 880 293 flights). The rate for 2022 had been 1.3 per million sectors flown.

The fatality risk in 2023 had been 0.03. To put that differently, on average, someone would have to travel by air every day for 103 239 years to be in a fatal accident. The fatality risk for 2022 had been 0.11, and that for the five-year period 2019-2023 had also been 0.11. Although there was the single fatal turboprop accident last year, that was still a significant improvement over 2022, when there had been four fatal accidents involving turboprops. There had been a single fatal accident involving a jet in 2022. The 2019-2023 five-year average figure, for fatal accidents involving all airliners, was five.

Not one IATA member airline suffered a fatal accident last year. Moreover, not one airline on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) register suffered a fatal accident, either. There are 100 non-IATA-member airlines on the IOSA register.

However, last year did see 30 non-fatal accidents. Many of these, particularly in Europe and North America, were related to collapses of aircraft landing gear. Some of these did involve IATA airlines, which gave the association an ‘all accident’ rate of 0.77 per million sectors flown, or one accident per 1.3-million flights. In all, in 2023 there were 19 accidents involving both IATA and non-IATA airlines on the IOSA registry, giving IOSA-registered airlines an average accident rate of 0.69 per million sectors flown, which was 56% better than the rate of 1.08 recorded by non-IOSA airlines. The total number of accidents in 2022 had been 42, of which 37 had not been fatal. The 2019-2023 five-year average figure for all accidents had been 38.

“Since 2005, the all-accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry is almost three times better than for non-IOSA airlines,” stressed Walsh. “This sustained performance demonstrates that the implementation of global standards improves safety.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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