The number of air accidents declined further in 2016, but more of them resulted in fatalities than in the previous year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Friday. Africa was amongst the safest region in terms of jet hull losses.
Some 65 accidents occurred last year, compared with 68 in 2015 and an annual average of 81 over the last five years, according to IATA’s latest annual report on aviation safety. Of 2016’s accidents, 10 were fatal, versus four a year earlier.
“We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long distance travel,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive, said in a statement.
The accidents covered by the report killed 268 people, up from 136 in 2016 but below the five-year average of 371, according to IATA, which represents some 265 airlines or 83 percent of the world’s total air traffic.
Among others, a plane crash in Colombia blamed on human error killed 71 people in November, including most of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team. An Egyptair flight crashed en route from Paris to Cairo in May, killing all 66 people on board.
IATA said the 2016 global jet accident rate, measured in hull losses per 1 million flights, was 0.39, compared with 0.32 in 2015 and 0.36 in the previous five years.
“Last year some 3.8 billion travellers flew safely on 40.4 million flights. The number of total accidents, fatal accidents and fatalities all declined versus the five-year average, showing that aviation continues to become safer. We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long distance travel. And safety remains the top priority of all involved in aviation. The goal is for every flight to depart and arrive without incident. And every accident redoubles our efforts to achieve that,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA noted strong progress in Africa: in 2016, Sub-Saharan Africa had its best performance within the last decade, with zero passenger fatalities and zero jet hull losses. The all accident rate was 2.30 per one million departures, compared to 9.73 for the previous five years. The continent also saw continuing improvement in turboprop safety, with a turboprop hull loss rate of 1.56 (85% lower than its 2011-2015 yearly average). There was one non-fatal turboprop hull loss.
“Sub-Saharan airlines delivered a very strong performance in 2016. But we must not rest on this success. Safety is earned every day. The lesson in Africa’s improvement is that global standards like the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) make a difference. African nations should maintain this strong momentum by making IOSA and the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (for those carriers that are not eligible for IOSA) a part of their airline certification process. Regional governments also need to accelerate the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS). As of year-end 2016, only 22 African countries had at least 60% SARPS implementation,” said de Juniac.
The 33 sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry performed nearly twice as well as non-IOSA airlines in 2016 in terms of all accidents and performed 7.5 times better than non-IOSA operators in the 2012-2016 period.