Flying is getting safer by the year - IATA

Wednesday April 15 2020


Travellers at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP 

By The EastAfrican

Flying became safer for the public last year, with the number of people dying in accidents falling by more than half compared with 2018; the lowest level in five years according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2019 safety report that was released on April 6.

The association says some 4.54 billion people safely travelled on 46.8 billion flights during 2019.

However, the year saw a total of 240 deaths from eight fatal accidents involving four jet aircraft and four turboprop aircraft.

Sixty-five per cent of the fatalities (157 deaths) were from a single accident—Ethiopian 302, a Boeing 737 Max-8 that crashed minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa for Nairobi on March 10, 2019.

Despite that, IATA says there was an improvement across all major safety performance indicators compared with 2018 and to the five-year average of the 2014-2018 period.

The all accident rate improved from 1.36 per million flights or one accident for every 7333,000 flights in 2018 to 1.13 accidents for a million flights in 2019.


Last year’s rate translates into one accident for every 884,000 flights. It also shows a sharp improvement when compared with the five-year average of 1.56 accidents per million flights or an accident every 640,000 flights.

The highest number of fatalities resulted from loss of control of the aircraft during flight and hard landings.

In 2019, fatality risk or the odds of a passenger or crew member getting involved in an accident with no survivors was 0.09 in a million flights.

One would have to travel every day for 29,586 years to experience an accident in which all on board die

There were 53 accidents in 2019; eight of them involved fatalities. That was an improvement from 62 accidents in 2018, and a five-year average of 63.2 accidents.

“The release of the 2019 Safety Report is a reminder that even as aviation faces its deepest crisis, we are committed to making aviation even safer. Based on the 2019 fatality risk, on average, a passenger could take a flight every day for 535 years before experiencing an accident with one fatality on board. But we know that one accident is one too many.

“Every fatality is a tragedy and it is vital that we learn the correct lessons to make aviation even safer,” said IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac.