11 people killed in 10 fatal UK air accidents during 2023, all in summer months

AAIB annual safety report 2023

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed in its ‘Annual Safety Review’ that 11 people were killed in 10 fatal air accidents in the United Kingdom (UK) during 2023. 

The AAIB also announced it received 790 occurrence notifications, compared to 778 in 2022, and opened 25 field investigations – a further 80 investigations were opened through correspondence. 

The AAIB said that while the number of deaths was not unusual, they all occurred in the summer months.  

None of the fatal accidents in the UK involved large-scale passenger or freight operations and were all centered around ‘General Aviation’.  

The 10 fatal accidents included seven light aircraft, two gliders and one hot air balloon. 

The predominant factor in these fatal accidents was loss of control in flight which “usually resulted from low speed near to the ground and the aircraft stalling leading to an incipient or fully developed spin”.   

“In 2023 there were 10 fatal air accidents in the UK resulting in 11 deaths. All involved General Aviation. Whilst this number of fatal accidents was not unusual, they all occurred in the summer months and the fatal glider mid-air collision was the first for nine years,” said Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents. 

Orr added: “Loss of control in flight continues to be the prevalent cause of fatal accidents. The key safety messages to avoid loss of control have been reinforced in revised promotional materials published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).” 

Commercial Air Transport incidents

According to the AAIB’s report the most common accidents involving Commercial Air Transport (CAT) in the UK (and globally) during 2023 were non-fatal runway excursions, ground collisions and tail-strikes. 

The AAIB said that “serious incidents rarely attract much media attention but are a valuable opportunity to identify safety issues before they become manifest in an accident”.   

“Over the last 20 years, two-thirds of the CAT field investigations conducted by the AAIB were into Incidents and Serious Incidents rather than Accidents, with a high proportion yielding Safety Recommendations that have proved to be highly significant in further improving air transport safety,” Orr concluded. 

The AAIB also provided support to 48 new overseas investigations where there was a UK interest. 

You can read the full report on the AAIB website.

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