Europe’s air safety record on show

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The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued its annual safety review.

Last year, 2016, was the safest year on record for passenger and scheduled cargo aviation in Europe. Only two deaths were recorded, the crew of a Bombardier CRJ200 freight aircraft in Sweden on January 8.

The crash highlighted ‘the complex nature of aviation safety and the significance of addressing human factor aspects in further reducing accidents’, EASA executive director, Patrick Ky, said.

Non-commercial aeroplane flight was the sector with the highest number of deaths and fatal accidents in 2016, with 113 fatalities and 77 fatal accidents. However, in this and other sectors, (air transport, aerial work, gliders, non-commercial helicopters, ground handling and ATC) the accident and fatality numbers were lower than the 10 year average. The crash of an EC225 helicopter last year that killed 13 lifted the offshore helicopter fatality numbers above the long-term average, but other commercial helicopter operations improved on the long-term figures.

However, in commercial air transport the review found a 36 per cent increase in the number of serious incidents for 2016, a total 106 serious incidents, compared with the average of 78.2.

An interesting detail buried in the review is that gastrointestinal illness is the largest cause of incidents (2439) and serious incidents (34) in airline transport over the past five years, demonstrating, without wishing to be flippant, that Europe’s aircrews have good reason to fear the wurst.

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