IATA: 2018 airline safety hit masks overall improvement

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Airline safety deteriorated in 2018  but the industry estimates travelers could still take a flight every day for 241 years without experiencing an accident involving a fatality.

New International Air Transport Association (IATA)  statistics show that 523 people died in 11 fatal accidents compared to 19 fatalities in six fatal accidents in 2017.

The all accident rate, which includes turboprops, was 1.35 per million flights, or the equivalent of one accident for every 740,000 flights. This was up from 1.11 in 2017 but still better than the five-year average to that year of 1.79.

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There were 62 accidents overall, compared to 46 in 2017.

The rate for major jet accidents, measured in hull losses per 1 million flights, rose from 0.12 in 2017 to 0.19.

This was the equivalent of one major accident per 5.4 million flights and was still an improvement over the five-year average of 0.29 hull losses per million flights.

The 1018 fatality risk of 0.17 was up from 0.1 in 2017 but IATA said this meant on average a per person would have to travel by air every day for 241 years before experiencing an accident in which at least one passenger was killed.

They would have to travel every day for 16, 581 years to experience an accident in which everyone was killed.

IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said the 2018 safety record was not as extraordinary as 2017’s but 4.3 billion passengers flew safely on 46.1 million flights.

Flying was safe, he said,  and the data indicated it was getting safer.

“For example, if safety in 2018 had remained at the same level as 2013, there would have been 109 accidents instead of 62; and there would have been 18 fatal accidents, instead of the 11 that actually occurred,” de Juniac said.

“Flying continues to be the safest form of long-distance travel the world has ever known.’’

In terms of jet hull losses, six regions showed improvement in 2018 or were the same as in 2017.

Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North Asia recording no losses.

The Commonwealth of Independent States, which recorded the worst result of 1.19, and Latin America and the Caribbean were the exceptions.

The world turboprop hull loss rate actually improved compared to 2017 to 0.6 per million flights.

All regions except the Middle East-North Africa recorded an improvement.

This included the CIS, although it still recorded the worst result of any region.

The all accident rate for airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry was more than two times lower than that of non-IOSA airlines at 0.98 versus 2.16.

There are currently 431 airlines on the IOSA registry, including 131 that are not IATA  members.