Global air safety improves despite high-profile losses

Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 (photo by hasrullnizam)
Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 (photo by hasrullnizam)

The global aviation industry recorded the lowest accident rate in history in 2014, despite the high-profile losses of flights MH370 and MH17.

According to data from IATA, the 2014 jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per one million flights) was 0.23, or the equivalent of one accident for every 4.4m flights. This was an improvement over 2013 when the global hull loss rate stood at 0.41 and also an improvement over the five-year average of 0.58.

There were 12 fatal accidents involving all aircraft types (jet and turboprop) in 2014, with 641 fatalities, compared to an average of 19 accidents and 517 deaths per year over the previous five-year period.

However the loss of flight MH17, which is widely believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, was not included in the figures, as it was not classified as an “accident”.

“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 & CEO.

“The shooting down of MH17 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,” he added.

Regarding MH370, which disappeared on 8 March 2014, IATA said it welcomed the proposal by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with regards to the global tracking of commercial aircraft, which is now being trialled in Australia. The initiative will see commercial aircraft report their positions every 15 minutes when flying over remote areas.

In terms of jet aircraft, Africa and North Asia both posted zero hull losses in 2014, while North America (0.11), Europe (0.15) were both below the global average. Asia Pacific (0.44), Latin America & Caribbean (0.41), the Middle East & North Africa (0.63) and CIS (0.83) all improved compared to 2013.

The accident rate for turboprop aircraft however, was significantly higher than jet aircraft. The world lost 2.30 turboprop aircraft per million flights in 2014, although this is also an improvement on the previous five-year average of 2.78.

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