The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released preliminary first quarter 2015 (January 1- March 31) commercial aviation safety performance data. The preliminary results are subject to revision based on the determination of the Accident Classification Task Force.
- The first quarter 2015 preliminary global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.38, which was the equivalent of one accident for every 2.6 million flights. This was an improvement over the five year rate (2010-2014) when the global hull loss rate stood at 0.45 but above the full year 2014 rate of 0.23, which was the lowest in aviation history.
- The first quarter 2015 preliminary turboprop hull loss rate was 1.58, which was an improvement on the five year rate of 2.92 and the 2014 annual rate of 2.32. The first quarter all accident rate (jets and turboprops) for airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry was 2.11, which was nearly twice as good as the rate for non-IOSA airlines (4.10).
- There were 6 hull loss accidents (3 jets, 3 turboprops) among 9.8 million flights (7.9 million jets and 1.9 million turboprops).
“Flying is safe. The industry has become so reliable in its safety record that relatively small variations in performance from year to year can skew the numbers. The safety performance over one quarter is insufficient to come to any conclusions. However, as the data fits within the five-year trend of improvement it reassures us that the industry strategy is driving us in the right direction,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Aviation is never complacent in its approach to safety. Accidents are rare and each is thoroughly investigated to derive insight on how to make flying safer. Action following three recent tragedies illustrates this point:
- Germanwings 9525 : “Safety is the top focus of aviation professionals day-in and day-out. Yet the recent Germanwings tragedy has reinforced that aviation has no immunity to mental health issues,” said Tyler. IATA is participating in the US Federal Aviation Administration’s recently announced Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARC) that is studying pilot emotional and mental health issues. “The ARC model is an excellent example of building standards and recommended practices through the collaborative sharing of expertise. This has been the industry’s model for decades and it has helped make aviation the safest form of long-distance travel the world has ever known,” said Tyler.
- MH 370 : In response to the disappearance of MH 370, IATA supports and is participating in the multi-national normal aircraft tracking implementation initiative (NATII) being led by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
- MH 17: Following the shooting down of MH 17, governments and the industry joined together to find ways to reduce the risk of overflying conflict zones. This includes better sharing of critical information about security risks to civil aviation. Additionally, IATA is calling for an international convention to manage the design, manufacture, sale, and deployment of anti-aircraft weaponry.
Strategy and Global Standards
Historically, the major thrusts for safety improvements have come through the well-established system of air accident investigations. As accidents become ever rarer, it is clear that sustainable future gains will come from a systemic, data-driven approach to safety that builds on continuous improvement supported by cooperation and partnership among safety stakeholders. A global perspective that develops standards through the sharing of expertise is vital to this strategy.
Adherence to global standards and recommended practices are a pre-requisite to safety. To strengthen IOSA, the global standard for measuring operational safety, IATA is transitioning this year to Enhanced IOSA, which introduces continuous monitoring across the two-year audit cycle. This is moving IOSA from a once-every-two-year snapshot to a continuous management process.
IATA has also launched the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA), which is intended for operators that are not eligible for the IOSA, either because they operate aircraft that have a maximum take-off weight below the 5,700 kg threshold for participation in IOSA or because their business model does not allow conformity with IOSA’s standards.
Audit programs such as Enhanced IOSA and ISSA are an important element of IATA’s Six Point Safety Program, a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify and address organizational, operational, and emerging safety issues:
- Reducing operational risk
- Enhancing quality and compliance through audit programs
- Advocating for improved aviation infrastructure, such as the implementation of performance-based navigation approaches
- Supporting consistent implementation of Safety Management Systems
- Supporting effective recruitment and training to enhance quality and compliance through such programs as the IATA Quality and Training Initiative and ICAO’s Multi-crew Pilot License
- Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries
Underlying this foundational approach to safety is the Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) program, a comprehensive safety data warehouse. GADM includes analysis reports covering accidents, incidents, ground damage, maintenance, and audits, plus data from nearly 2 million flights and over 1 million air safety reports. More than 470 organizations, including more than 90% of IATA member airlines, are participating in at least one GADM database.
“While we must always try to be ready for the unexpected, future safety gains will come increasingly from analyzing data from all flights, not just the infinitesimal percentage of flights where something goes wrong. GADM will guide us to apply our resources where they can have the biggest impact on safety.” said Tyler.