While flying is still the safest mode of transportation, there is much room for improvement, according to the data.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for the 2018 safety performance of the commercial airline industry and although it is seeing a continuation of safety improvements over the long term, 2018 also saw an increase in accidents over the previous year.
There were 11 fatal accidents with 523 fatalities among passengers and crew. This number compares with an average of 8.8 fatal accidents and approximately 234 fatalities per year in the previous 5-year period (2013-2017). In 2017, the industry experienced 6 fatal accidents with 19 fatalities, which was a record low. One accident in 2017 also resulted in the deaths of 35 persons on the ground.
The all accident rate (measured in accidents per 1 million flights) was 1.35, which was the equivalent of one accident for every 740,000 flights. This was an improvement over the all-accident rate of 1.79 for the previous 5-year period (2013-2017), but a decline compared to 2017’s record performance of 1.11.
The 2018 rate for major jet accidents (measured in jet hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.19, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 5.4 million flights. This was an improvement over the rate for the previous 5-year period (2013-2017) of 0.29 but not as good as the rate of 0.12 in 2017.
“Last year some 4.3 billion passengers flew safely on 46.1 million flights. 2018 was not the extraordinary year that 2017 was. However, flying is safe, and the data tell us that it is 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” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Flying continues to be the safest form of long distance travel the world has ever known. Based on the data, on average, a passenger could take a flight every day for 241 years before experiencing an accident with one fatality on board. We remain committed to the goal of having every flight takeoff and land safely,” said de Juniac.
One well-known hazard is inflight turbulence. As passenger and cabin crew injuries related to in-flight turbulence climb, IATA sees a need to address this increasing safety risk. In response, IATA has launched Turbulence Aware, a global platform for sharing automated turbulence reports in real time. Operational trials with a number of airlines are being conducted this year, with full launch planned for 2020.