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Commercial aviation safest in 10 years

Commercial air travel in 2015 was safer than in any of the previous 10 years, according to Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) research, released today.

Commercial air travel in 2015 was safer than in any of the previous 10 years

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.

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 per cent of fatal accidents resulting from a loss of control,” Mr 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.

Mr 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,” Mr 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.

The aim of the ATSB’s statistical report series is to provide feedback and information to pilots, operators, regulators, and other aviation industry participants on accidents and incidents that have occurred, how often they have occurred, and what can be learnt from them.

The statistics are used by the ATSB to inform its SafetyWatch priorities.

Read the ATSB research report AR-2016-122 - Aviation occurrence statistics 2006 to 2015.

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Last update 14 February 2017