The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently issued its safety analysis of air travel in 2017. After crunching the numbers, it came up with the figure of 6033. That’s the number of years you would have to spend, catching a commercial flight every day, before you experienced an accident in which at least one passenger (not necessarily you), was killed.
By IATA’s reckoning there were six fatal accidents with 19 fatalities among passengers and crew in 2017. This compares with an average of 10.8 fatal accidents and approximately 315 fatalities per year in the previous five-year period (2012–2016). In 2016 there were nine fatal accidents and 202 fatalities.
However, none of the six fatal accidents involved a passenger jet. Five involved turboprop aircraft and one involved a cargo jet. The crash of the cargo jet also resulted in the deaths of 35 people on the ground, as well as the crew of the jet.
There were no fatal accidents or hull losses (write-off of an aircraft) among IATA member airlines flying jet or turboprop aircraft.
‘2017 was a very good year for aviation safety,’ IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said. ‘Some 4.1 billion travellers flew safely on 41.8 million flights. We saw improvements in nearly all key metrics—globally and in most regions.’
De Juniac said IATA would continue with its six-point safety strategy to identify organisational, operational and emerging safety issues.
The strategy consists of:
- reducing operational risk such as LOC-I (loss of control in-flight), CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) and RE (runway excursions)
- enhancing quality and compliance through audit programs
- advocating for improved aviation infrastructure such as implementation of performance-based navigation approaches
- supporting consistent implementation of safety management systems (SMS)
- supporting effective recruitment and training to enhance quality and compliance through programs such as the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative
- identifying and addressing emerging safety issues such as lithium batteries and integrating remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into airspace.