Published on May 6th, 2015 | by Jim Lee


EASA, IATA move to reduce accidents and improve safety

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the publication of new training requirements for airline pilots to prevent loss of control situations. EASA has issued an explanatory note to its Decision 2015/012/R on Upset Prevention and Recovery Training.

The ‘upset prevention and recovery training’ (UPRT) requirements aim to improve safety standards by mitigating loss of control in-flight (LOC-I) accidents. The requirements are based on International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices and have been developed by EASA in consultation with leading industry experts. All European airlines and commercial business jet operators are required to implement these provisions by April 2016.

The new rules will include training on stall recovery, dealing with situations where the aircraft’s nose is too low or too high, and also include more training on environmental hazards such as thunderstorms and weather zones such as the turbulent Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Probably the most memorable accident in this category was the loss of Air France 447 (an Airbus A330-203, F-GZCP see here) flying between Rio de Janeiro and Paris that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm on 1st June, 2009, killing all 228 people on board.

Air France 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm on 1st June, 2009, killing all 228 people on board. Brazilian Air Force.

Patrick Ky, EASA Executive Director, said: “A number of accidents in recent years have demonstrated that Loss of Control remains a major area of concern for regulators and should be tackled with the highest priority.” “Although LOC-I events are rare, 97% of the LOC-I accidents over the past five years involved fatalities to passengers or crew. Partnering with EASA on this important initiative based on global standards and best practices will reduce the likelihood of such events in future,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO added.

IATA through its Pilot Training Task Force is developing detailed guidance material in support of the implementation of the provisions by its European members. Pilot associations in Europe have been pushing for improved training standards and especially for more focus on basic flying skills, which many feel have been neglected due to increasing automation in cockpits and cost pressures.

The European Cockpit Association, which represents over 38,000 pilots in 37 European countries, said pilot training had been gradually slimmed down over the past decade, both by the EU regulator and by the airlines.

2014 safety performance

According to IATA the 2014 global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.23, which was the lowest rate in history and the equivalent of one accident for every 4.4 million flights. This was an improvement over 2013 when the global hull loss rate stood at 0.41 (an average of one accident every 2.4 million flights) and also an improvement over the five-year rate (2009-2013) of 0.58 hull loss accidents per million flights jet.

There were 12 fatal accidents involving all aircraft types in 2014 with 641 fatalities, compared with an average of 19 fatal accidents and 517 fatalities per year in the five-year period (2009-2013). The 2014 jet hull loss rate for members of IATA was 0.12 (one accident for every 8.3 million flights), which outperformed the global average by 48% and which showed significant improvement over the five-year rate of 0.33.

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2014 will be remembered however for two extraordinary and tragic events involving the same airline, Malaysia Airlines MH 370 and MH 17. Although the reasons for the disappearance and loss of MH 370 are unknown, it is classified as a fatal accident, one of 12 in 2014. The destruction of MH 17 which took with it 298 lives was caused by anti-aircraft weaponry and is not included as an accident under globally-recognised accident classification criteria. The four aircraft involved in the events of 9.11 were treated in the same way

More than 3.3 billion people flew safely on 38 million flights (30.6 million by jet, 7.4 million by turboprop) nevertheless there were:-

  • 73 accidents (all aircraft types), down from 81 in 2013 and the five-year average of 86 per year
  • 12 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 16 in 2013 and the five-year average of 19
  • 16% of all accidents were fatal, below the five-year average of 22%
  • 7 hull loss accidents involving jets compared to 12 in 2013 and the five-year average of 16
  • Three fatal hull loss accidents involving jets, down from six in 2013, and the five-year average of eight
  • 17 hull loss accidents involving turboprops of which nine were fatal 641 fatalities compared to 210 fatalities in 2013 and the five-year average of 517

All regions but one showed improvement in 2014 when compared to 2013. The exception is Europe which maintained the rate of 0.15 jet hull losses per 1 million sectors. All regions saw their safety performance improve in 2014 compared to the respective five-year rate 2009-2013 as follows; Africa (from 6.83 to 0.00), Asia-Pacific (from 0.63 to 0.44), CIS (from 2.74 to 0.83), Europe (from 0.24 to 0.15), Latin America and the Caribbean (from 0.87 to 0.41), Middle East-North Africa (1.82 to 0.63), North America (from 0.20 to 0.11) and North Asia (from 0.06 to 0.00).

CIS had the worst performance (0.83) among regions, but it showed strong improvement over three consecutive years: 6.34 (2011), 1.91 (2012), 1.79 (2013).

The world turboprop hull loss rate improved to 2.30 hull losses per million flights in 2014 compared to 2.78 in the five years 2009-2013. The following regions saw their turboprop safety performance improve in 2014 when compared to the respective five-year rate: Asia-Pacific (from 2.16 to 0.00); CIS (from 12.12 to 11.95) Europe (from 1.46 to 0.71); Latin America and the Caribbean (from 4.53 to 1.21), Middle East-North Africa (from 7.91 to 7.17).

Africa had the worst performance (14.13 hull losses per million flights) in 2014 for turboprop hull losses, which exceeded the region’s five-year rate of 9.62. There are relatively few turboprop operations in North Asia so the single turboprop hull loss experienced in the region in 2014 caused the turboprop hull loss rate to rise to 11.28 compared to the five-year rate of. 2.41. North America also saw a deterioration in 2014 compared to the preceding five years (1.19 vs. 1.02).

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Historically, aviation safety has improved through a well-established process of accident investigations that identify the probable causes and recommend mitigation measures. However, as aviation becomes ever safer, there are so few accidents that they cannot yield the trend data that is vital to a systemic risk-based approach to improving safety. Future safety gains will come increasingly from analysing data from the more than 38 million flights that operate safely every year, rather than just the handful of flights where something goes wrong. To support this requirement, IATA has created the Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) program as 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 organisations, including more than 90% of IATA member airlines, are participating in at least one GADM database.

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IATA has a Six Point Safety Strategy which is a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify organisational, operational and emerging safety issues and its focus is on:-

  • Reducing operational risk
  • 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
  • Supporting effective recruitment and training to enhance quality and compliance through programs such as the IATA Quality and Training Initiative and ICAO’s Multi-crew Pilot License
  • Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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