Runways remain the accident blackspot within aviation, according to the latest analysis of data conducted by the airline industry.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said runway excursions accounted for 28% of total accidents in 2012. Most of these (82%) occurred following a stable approach where the aircraft floated beyond the normal touchdown point, or braking devices did not activate in a timely manner, or because directional control was not maintained after landing.
“This type of accident in which an aircraft departs a runway during a landing or takeoff continues to present challenges for the industry,” said IATA.
Despite an increase in the runway excursion accident rate in 2012, the five-year trend in actual accidents remains downward (2008:28, 2009:23, 2010:20, 2011:17, 2012:21).
IATA said it would continue to work with industry partners to support regional runway safety seminars and to update the IATA Runway Excursion Risk Reduction (RERR) toolkit. It added that its own IOSA safety audit scheme now requires that airlines make use of Flight Data Analysis (FDA) programmes which can help identify precursors to runway excursions.
In terms of incidents of Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) – although they are not one of the most common accident categories – they do result in the most fatalities (43% of all fatal accidents and 60% of all fatalities from 2008-2012).
IATA said it is working with industry partners to implement a global LOC-I prevention programme that will assist operators to understand the factors involved in these events. In addition, this programme will provide guidance for an enhanced pilot training and establish a process for feedback into the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative (ITQI).
Despite this IATA said the 2012 global accident rate for Western-built jets was the lowest in aviation history.
“The industry’s 2012 record safety performance was the best in history. Each day approximately 100,000 flights arrive safely at their destination. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and safety regulators work together to ensure every flight is as safe as possible. Their dedication and cooperation has made air travel remarkably safe. Nevertheless, there is still work to do. Every accident is one too many and each fatality is a human tragedy. The first commercial airline flight took place on 1 January 1914. Since the very first flight the airline industry has made continuous improvement in safety its top priority,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Close to 3 billion people flew safely on 37.5 million flights (29.8 million by jet, 7.7 million by turboprop)
- 75 accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern and Western built), down from 92 in 2011
- 15 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 22 in 2011
- 6 hull loss accidents involving Western-built jets compared to 11 in 2011
- 3 fatal hull loss accidents involving Western-built jets, down from 5 in 2011
- 414 fatalities compared to 486 in 2011
- Fatality rate slightly increased to 0.08 per million passengers from 0.07 in 2011 based on Western-built jet operations
- IATA member airlines outperformed the industry average for accidents of all aircraft types (0.71 accidents per million flights compared to 2.01), accounting for 13 of the 75 accidents
Airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit Registry (IOSA) experienced no Western-built jet hull loss accidents. The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA registered carriers was 4.3 times better than the rate for non-IOSA carriers (0.96 vs. 4.11).
Today 381 airlines are on the IOSA registry. For IATA’s 240+ airlines IOSA is a requirement for membership in the association. IATA said the fact that some 140 non-member airlines are on the registry is a clear indication that IOSA has become the global benchmark for airline operational safety management.
“IOSA once again demonstrated its positive impact on aviation safety. Carriers on the IOSA registry recorded an accident rate that was more than four times better than their non-registered counterparts. Not only did IOSA registered carriers have a lower accident rate but the accidents were less severe in terms of fatalities and damage to aircraft,” said Tyler.
During 2012, IATA continued its work with airline members to develop the Enhanced IOSA. Enhanced IOSA adds a further dimension with a focus on airlines’ internal quality assurance programme to implement self-auditing methodology based on IOSA principles.
IATA said data sharing is crucial to identifying trends that could indicate a potential safety issue. In 2009, IATA launched the Global Safety Information Center (GSIC). This incorporates operational and safety information fed by seven different databases.
These are accident data, operational safety reports, IOSA and IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) audit findings, Flight Data eXchange (FDX), an aircraft ground damage database and a new cabin safety operational report database. More than 460 different organisations around the globe are already submitting information to GSIC.
Continuing with the work started with GSIC, IATA is introducing the new operational data management initiative, incorporating GSIC and expanding data management into other arenas such as operations and infrastructure.
“Data collection and analysis underpins all safety efforts. The more we understand about how accidents and incidents occur, the better equipped we are to identify the risk factors. This allows us to take mitigation steps long before risks become a safety issue that could contribute to an accident”, said Tyler.
“In a little more than one lifetime, aviation has gone from being a high risk activity to a routine part of daily life. As commercial aviation prepares to enter its second century, we must live up to the ideals of our industry’s pioneers and recommit ourselves to making aviation ever safer,” said Tyler.