Published on February 22nd, 2016 | by Jim Lee


IATA releases 2015 safety performance noting it was “another year of contrasts when it comes to aviation’s safety”

On 6th January, we posted preliminary 2015 airliner accident statistics based on data released by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), an independent organisation located in the Netherlands, which was founded in 1996. On 15th February, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its data for the 2015 safety performance of the commercial airline industry.

This data differs from that released by ASN and also leads to a slightly different conclusion that 2015 was the safest year, suggested by the provisional ASN data. There are also a number of differences in the way certain instances are classified, most notably the fact that the loss of Germanwings 9525, Airbus A320-211, D-AIPX (pilot suicide) and Metrojet 9268, Airbus A321, EI-ETJ (suspected terrorism) that resulted in the deaths of 374 passengers, are not included in the IATA accident statistics as they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference. Also the ASN data was based “on a selection of worldwide fatal accidents involving civil aircraft with a minimum capacity of 14 passengers” while IATA measured all accidents involving the commercial airline industry.

IATA Director General & CEO Tony Tyler

IATA Director General & CEO Tony Tyler

In a comment on the figures, Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO said “2015 was another year of contrasts when it comes to aviation’s safety performance. In terms of the number of fatal accidents, it was an extraordinarily safe year. And the long-term trend data show us that flying is getting even safer. Yet we were all shocked and horrified by two deliberate acts–the destruction of Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268. While there are no easy solutions to the mental health and security issues that were exposed in these tragedies, aviation continues to work to minimize the risk that such events will happen again”. See here.

Using the IATA criteria, there were four accidents resulting in passenger fatalities in 2015, all of which involved turboprop aircraft, with 136 fatalities. This compares with an average of 17.6 fatal accidents and 504 fatalities per year in the previous five-year period (2010-2014).

Airline security

Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268 that resulted in the deaths of 374 passengers, are not included in the IATA accident statistics as they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference.

IATA notes that the 2015 global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.32, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 3.1 million flights. This was not as good as the rate of 0.27 achieved in 2014 but a 30% improvement compared to the previous five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.46 hull loss accidents per million jet flights.

The 2015 jet hull loss rate for members of IATA was 0.22 (one accident for every 4.5 million flights), which outperformed the global rate by 31% and which was in line with the five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.21 per million flights but above the 0.12 hull loss rate achieved in 2014. See summary sheet here.

IATA 2015 Safety data by the numbers

  • Although there were no passenger fatalities on jet transports there were two accidents with jet aircraft which resulted in loss of life:
  • Zero jet hull loss accidents involving passenger fatalities, down from three in 2014, and the five-year average of 6.4 per year.
  • 10 hull loss accidents involving jets compared to 8 in 2014 and the five-year average of 13 per year
  • 6% of all accidents were fatal, below the five-year average of 19.6%
  • Four fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 12 in 2014 and the five-year average of 17.6
  • 68 accidents (all aircraft types), down from 77 in 2014 and the five-year average of 90 per year
  • 136 fatalities compared to 641 fatalities in 2014 and the five- year average of 504. Including those who lost their lives in Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268, the 2015 figure was 510.
  • More than 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights (31.4 million by jet, 6.2 million by turboprop)
    1. Eight fatalities on the ground resulted from a runway excursion in the DR Congo involving a freighter aircraft.
    2. A passenger jet and a smaller jet conducting an air ambulance flight collided over Senegal. Damage to the passenger jet was moderate and there were no injuries to any on board. The wreckage of the air ambulance has not been located and is presumed lost with the deaths of all 7 persons on board.
  • Eight hull loss accidents involving turboprops of which four were fatal

Jet hull loss rates by region of operator

All regions but one (North America) saw their safety performance improved in 2015 compared to the respective five-year rate 2010- 2014, as follows:

  1. Africa (3.49 compared to a five-year rate of 3.69)
  1. Asia-Pacific (0.21 compared to 0.56)
  1. CIS (1.88 compared to 3.14)
  1. Europe (0.15 compared to 0.18)
  1. Latin America and the Caribbean (0.39 compared to 0.92)
  1. Middle East-North Africa (0.00 compared to 1.00)
  1. North America (0.32 compared to 0.13)
  1. North Asia (0.00 compared to a 0.06).

Turboprop hull loss rates by region of operator

transasia ATR crash

TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed into the Keelung River on 4 February 2015, shortly after takeoff from Taipei Songshan Airport.

The world turboprop hull loss rate improved to 1.29 hull losses per million flights in 2015 compared to 3.95 in the five years 2010-2014.

The following regions saw their turboprop safety performance improve in 2015 when compared to the respective five-year rate:

  • Africa (4.53 compared to a five-year rate of 18.20);
  • Asia-Pacific (2.07 compared to 2.36);
  • CIS (0.00 compared to 17.83), Europe (0.00 compared to 1.63);
  • Latin America and the Caribbean (0.00 compared to 5.38), Middle East-North Africa (0.00 compared to 13.88);
  • North America 0.51 compared to 1.38).
  • North Asia had the worst performance (25.19 compared to 5.90), reflecting two regional hull losses, one of which was fatal. Owing to the relatively few turboprop operations in North Asia- approximately 80,000 flights in 2015 out of a world total of 6.2 million–the statistical relevance of a small number of accidents is magnified.

IATA logoAirlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Registry experienced four jet hull loss accidents (none fatal) and one fatal turboprop hull loss accident. The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA-registered carriers was nearly three times as good as the rate for non-IOSA carriers (1.14. vs. 3.23) last year; and over the five years 2010-2014, the rate is more than three times better (1.48 vs. 4.99). As of 12 February, 408 airlines were on the IOSA registry. For IATA’s 262 member airlines, IOSA registration is a requirement. That some 146 non-member airlines are also on the registry is evidence that IOSA is the global benchmark for airline operational safety management.

“Now in its 13th year, IOSA continues to be recognised as the gold standard for airline operational audits. In 2016 we will continue to tweak IOSA to ensure we are maintaining the highest standards of quality assurance in the audit process,” said Mr. Tyler.

Safety Improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan airlines had four commercial hull loss accidents in 2015, two involving jets and two involving turboprops. One of the turboprop accidents resulted in passenger fatalities.

“African safety is moving in the right direction. In 2015 we saw improvements compared to the five-year accident rate for both jet and turboprop hull losses. Nevertheless, challenges to bringing Africa in line with global performance remain. One valuable tool to assist this effort is IOSA. The 32 Sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry are performing 3.5 times better than non-IOSA operators in terms of all accidents (3.62 per million flights versus 12.99). States should make IOSA a part of the certification process.

“Governments in the region also need to accelerate implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS), according to the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). As of the end of January 2016, only 21 African States had accomplished at least 60% of implementation of the SARPS,” added Mr. Tyler.

Six-Point Safety Strategy

Finally, IATA’s Six Point Safety Strategy is a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify organisational, operational and emerging safety issues:

  • Reducing operational risk such as loss of control in-flight, runway events and controlled flight into terrain
  • 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 Training Qualification and Initiative
  • Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries and integrating remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into airspace.

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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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