IATA safety report: 2022 saw a reduction in fatal accident rate

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its 2022 Safety Report for commercial aviation, showing the lowest fatal accident rate compared to the last five years.

The report, which was released on March 7, 2023, also showed that there was a 25% increase in flights operated compared to 2021 due to most governments lifting or easing COVID-19 travel restrictions. However the figure is still 31% below what it was in 2019. 

More accidents, less fatalities 

Although there were more accidents in commercial aviation in 2022 than the previous year (39 in 2022 vs 29 in 2021), the fatal accident rate improved. 

Five accidents in 2022 resulted in fatalities, compared with seven in 2021. As a result, the fatal accident rate improved from 0.27 per million sectors in 2021 to 0.16 for 2022, which was also ahead of the five-year fatal accident rate of 0.20

Majority of fatalities in one flight

Despite the reduction in the number of fatal accidents, the number of fatalities rose from 121 in 2021 to 158 in 2022.

According to IATA, the majority of fatalities occurred in a single aircraft accident: China Eastern flight 5735, which crashed in March 2022 and claimed the lives of 132 people. 

The next largest loss of life occurred in the Precision Air accident in Tanzania that resulted in 19 fatalities.

Fatalities to persons on ground

IATA said that in three of the accidents, the fatalities were not passengers or crew, but rather people on the ground.

  • In an accident at Conakry’s Ahmed Sékou Touré International Airport (CKY) in Guinea, a motorcycle entered the runway and collided with an aircraft that was coming into land. Both people on the motorcycle died.
  • In another accident, a fire vehicle entered the runway at Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Peru as an aircraft was taking off, resulting in the deaths of two firefighters. 
  • A third accident occurred at Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) in Alabama when an airline ground worker was ingested into the engine of an aircraft shortly after it had arrived at the gate but before both engines had been shut down.

Continued focus to reduce industry fatality risk

Analyzing accident data that spanned 10 years, IATA said that the industry has improved its overall safety performance by 48%, with an accident rate in 2022 of 1.21 accidents per million sectors, compared to 2.31 in 2013. 

In 2013, 11 fatal accidents resulted in 173 fatalities. Over the past five years, there has been an average of around seven fatal accidents per year for commercial aircraft (passengers and cargo) resulting in an annual average of 231 fatalities.

IATA said that it is continuing its focus on supporting aviation stakeholders to continuously reduce the industry fatality risk.

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