Aviation Safety Report from the UN for 2011

Better Travel Risk Management Decisions

“2011 could very well be the safest year since the U.N. began keeping records in 1945″

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has released a report into the state of global aviation safety. This report will help business travel managers make more informed decisions around travel risk management and the true nature of aviation or airline safety concerns.

Airlines and air travel is a key element to any comprehensive travel risk management system. Too many travellers and businesses make educated guess or assumptions as to the nature of aviation or airline safety. This report will help many to understand and make far better or informed travel risk management decisions.

“This is a first in the history of ICAO,” said Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of ICAO. “While safety information is readily available from a number of sources, this innovative report presents a compelling and holistic plan for ICAO and the industry to consistently improve aviation safety, our number one objective.”

Air transport remains our safest form of transportation, and through our collective efforts, we have entered the safest period in global aviation history. But any accident is one too many, so as aviation continues to grow worldwide, we will need to do more to maintain this impressive record,” he emphasized.

Worldwide scheduled traffic volume experienced a year-over-year increase of 4.5 per cent in 2010, setting a new record of more than 30.5 million departures. By 2030, that number is expected to reach more than 52 million annually.

The publication, available to the general public online on the Organization’s website, combines comprehensive traffic statistics and accident trends as well as the full range of initiatives undertaken by ICAO and its partners to address the most serious safety issues. These include runway-related events, the number one cause of fatal accidents, pilot fatigue and an anticipated shortage of qualified aviation professionals.

The well-illustrated document, in simple language, covers initiatives within the four components of the ICAO safety framework including: policy and standardization; safety monitoring; safety analysis; and implementation of safety programmes. The strategy is intended to achieve systemic safety improvements that yield sustainable results.

IATA had the following to say on the issue:

IATA states that air safety improved by 22 percent over the previous year. What was behind the good news?

According to IATA, a United Nations report showed that 486 passengers and crew perished in air accidents through the first 11 months of 2011, down from 784 fatalities for the same period in 2010. That translated to one death for every 7 million flyers around the world. Though the fewest airline passenger deaths were recorded in 2004 (344 fatalities), airlines flew 30 percent fewer flights that year. Once all the statistics are tallied, 2011 could very well be the safest year since the U.N. began keeping records in 1945.

Western-built planes fared best when it came to accidents in 2011, experiencing one major crash for every 3 million flights. Non-western built aircraft also saw fewer accidents but their crash rate is still up to 7 times higher than those built by Airbus, for example. The most common accidents were runway excursions when planes overshot or abruptly exited runways due to excessive speeds, poor control, or other factors.

North America and Europe, which account for the majority of global airline flights, boasted extraordinary flight safety records. The United States, which last saw a fatal airline crash in 2009, has suffered 153 airline fatalities over the last decade. That translates to two fatalities for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights, according to government statistics. When jets first began flying commercially in the early 1960s, the first decade saw over 130 passengers die for every 100 million flyers.

For its part, Europe has sustained the high standards of safety still being sought in emerging aviation markets such as Africa. The EU currently bans certain airlines from flying over EU airspace due to safety concerns. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, 25 percent of crashes in 2011 were on planes operated by airlines that have been banned by the EU.

It’s well known that air travel is the safest form of transportation given the number of accidents compared to total flights. But it takes just one accident with many fatalities to remind us that improvements in air safety will always be an ongoing goal of the industry. The recent numbers are encouraging and are testaments to improved training, better technology and smarter engine and aircraft manufacturing. However, it’s worth noting that most air safety improvements can be attributed to hard lessons learned from the past. With today’s aircraft capable of carrying over 800 passengers and pilots having to keep up with increasingly sophisticated automation, we are constantly reminded of how precarious any “good” statistic can be.


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State of Business Aviattion Report-2011: Travel Risk Management

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