Safety Performance Report of Commercial Airline Industry Released

By Juergen T Steinmetz
Published February 25, 2018

Ethiopian is one of sub-Sahara's most successful airlinesThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for the 2017 safety performance of the commercial airline industry showing continued strong improvements in safety.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to make strong progress on safety. Airlines in this region had zero jet hull losses and zero fatal accidents involving jets or turboprops for a second consecutive year. Both the turboprop hull loss rate and the all accident rates declined against the average of the previous five years. However, the turboprop hull loss rate increased compared to 2016 (5.70 vs. 1.52). In turn, this largely was responsible for causing an increase in the all accident rate compared to 2016 (6.87 versus 2.43).

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“Airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa continued to improve their safety performance. The goal is to achieve world-class safety. For a second year in a row, airlines in the region experienced no passenger fatalities and no jet hull losses,” says Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of IATA.

However, de Juniac says, there is still a large gap to cover in the safety performance of the continent’s turboprop fleet.” he says the performance of African airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry was more than three times better than non-IOSA airlines in the region.

Kenya Airways will immediately apply for approval to code-share with US airlines while concurrently pursuing approval for direct flights.The IATA CEO encourages African nations to incorporate IOSA and the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) into their safety oversight systems. ISSA, which is intended for those carriers that are not eligible for IOSA, also offers a one-term opportunity to operators of aircraft that would otherwise fall under IOSA, enabling an incremental approach to achieving IOSA.

In parallel, African governments must accelerate the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS). As of year-end 2017, only 25 African countries had at least 60% SARPS implementation, de Juniac says.

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Globally, the all accident rate (measured in accidents per 1 million flights) was 1.08, an improvement over the all accident rate of 1.68 in 2016 and the rate of 2.01 for the previous 5-year period (2012-2016).

The 2017 rate for major jet accidents (measured in jet hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.11, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 8.7 million flights. This is an improvement over the rate of 0.39 achieved in 2016 and also better than the five-year rate (2012-2016) of 0.33.

Dubai Easter Package with Rwandair of US$830 per personThere were six fatal accidents with 19 fatalities among passengers and crew. This compares with an average of 10.8 fatal accidents and approximately 315 fatalities per year in the previous five-year period (2012-2016). In 2016 there were nine fatal accidents and 202 fatalities.

None of the six fatal accidents involved a passenger jet. Five involved turboprop aircraft and one involved a cargo jet. The crash of the cargo jet also resulted in the deaths of 35 persons on the ground, as well as the crew of the jet.

IATA member airlines experienced zero fatal accidents or hull losses in 2017 with jet or turboprop equipment.

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“2017 was a very good year for aviation safety. Some 4.1 billion travelers flew safely on 41.8 million flights. We saw improvements in nearly all key metrics—globally and in most regions. And our determination to make this very safe industry even safer continues,” says de Juniac. “In 2017 there were incidents and accidents that we will learn from through the investigation process, just as we will learn from the recent tragedies in Russia and Iran. Complementing that knowledge are insights we can gain from the millions of flights that operate safety. Data from these operations is powering the development of predictive analytics that will eventually enable us to eliminate the conditions that can lead to accidents. The industry knows that every fatality is a tragedy. Our common goal is for every flight to take-off and land safely.”

South African, Ethiopian and Kenya Airways are some of sub-Saharan Africa's leading airlinesIn 2017, the all accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry was nearly four times better than that of non-IOSA airlines (0.56 vs. 2.17) and it was nearly three times better over the 2012-16 period. All IATA member airlines are required to maintain their IOSA registration. There are currently 423 airlines on the IOSA Registry of which 142 are non-IATA Members. Over the next few years, IOSA will undergo a digital transformation that will enable IOSA airlines to compare and benchmark their performance. In the long run, the digital transformation will help to focus auditing on areas with the highest level of safety risk.

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IATA’s Six Point Safety Strategy, a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify organizational, operational and emerging safety issues, includes the following:

  • Reducing operational risk such as Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I), Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) and Runway Excursions (RE)
  • Enhancing quality and compliance through audit programmes
  • 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 programmes such as the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative, and
  • Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries and integrating remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into airspace.

This article, that first appeared in eTurboNews, has been edited.