Commercial air travel in 2015 was safer than in any of the previous 10 years, according to newly released research by Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
The ATSB’s report ‘Aviation occurrence statistics 2006 to 2015’ found that commercial air transport in 2015 had one fatality from nine accidents. General aviation had 12 fatalities from 130 accidents and recreational aviation had 18 fatalities from 76 accidents.
The term “general aviation” commonly refers to that part of the aviation industry that engages in activity other than commercial air transport operations. This may include small charter operators, aeromedical operators, agricultural aviation businesses, aviation-based fire-fighting services, training and aerial work such as aerial photography and surveying.
“Recreational aviation” refers to gliders, hang-gliders, paragliders and powered variants, hot-air air balloons, ultralights, rotorcraft, gyrocopters and so forth.
Pilot and passenger survived this de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk crash near Coffs Harbour but the aircraft sustained considerable damage
ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood said 28 aircraft were involved in fatal accidents in 2015 and a further 28 in an accident resulting in serious injuries.
“The majority of fatalities in the 10-year period occurred within general aviation, with around 20% of fatal accidents resulting from a loss of control,” Hood said.
Thousands of safety occurrences involving Australian-registered and foreign aircraft are reported to the ATSB every year by individuals and organisations in Australia’s aviation industry, and by the public.
Hood said that for all accidents, the highest accident rates occurred with recreational aeroplanes, followed by aerial agriculture, private/business and sport aviation, and recreational gyrocopters.
Of concern was that in 2014 (the most recent year flying hours data was available for), the flying training accident rate per million hours flown was more than double that of any year in the previous eight.
“The increase in accident rates involving flying training is an emerging safety concern – we’ll continue to keep a close eye on this sector to get a better understanding of the safety issues involved,” Hood said.
Also increasing was the number of remotely piloted aircraft accidents and incidents. “This has gone up from 14 occurrences in the eight years from 2006-2013 to 37 in 2014-2015.
“Given the significant growth in the use of remotely piloted aircraft, it is likely that the number of incidents and accidents will continue to increase in the short term.”
Mr Hood said growth in recreational (non-VH) flying and improving awareness of reporting requirements led to more than a tenfold increase in the number of recreational safety incidents reported to the ATSB from 2006 to 2015. VH is the Australian aircraft registration prefix. It doesn’t stand for anything.
Edited by Peter Needham