Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2004 to 2013

Why have we done this report

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. The aim of the ATSB’s statistical report series is to give information back to pilots, operators, regulators, and other aviation industry participants on what accidents and incidents have happened, how often they are happening, and what we can learn from them.

What the ATSB found

In 2013, there were 106 accidents, 221 serious incidents, and about 5,500 incidents reported to the ATSB involving Australian (VH­– registered) aircraft. There were also 71 accidents, 33 serious incidents, and 137 incidents involving Australian recreational aircraft and a further 200 foreign-registered aircraft operating within Australia or its airspace were involved in reportable safety occurrences.

Over the past 9 years, recreational aeroplane, aerial agriculture and private/business/sport operations had the most accidents per hour flown, with more than 160 accidents per million hours flown. Gyrocopters (recreational aviation) had the highest fatal accident rate over this period, followed by recreational aeroplane and private/business operations.

Commercial air transport aircraft were involved in the majority of occurrences, and in 2013 the most common occurrences reported were wildlife strikes, weather affecting aircraft, and aircraft system problems. Most accidents and serious incidents involved reduced aircraft separation, engine malfunction, or runway excursions. The number of incidents reported by commercial air transport operators has increased in each of the last 10 years, reflecting more flights and greater awareness of the importance of reporting safety occurrences.

General aviation aircraft, such as aircraft conducting flying training, aerial work, or private/pleasure flying, were involved in over one-third of occurrences reported to the ATSB in 2013. Wildlife strikes, runway events and aircraft separation issues were the most common incidents reported. In comparison, most accidents and serious incidents involved terrain collisions, reduced aircraft separation, or a loss of aircraft control. There was a fall in general aviation accidents and fatalities in 2013 particularly in private, business and sport flying (which is where most accidents and fatalities in general aviation happen) and in aerial work.

Recreational aviation aircraft (non-VH registered) were also involved in fewer reported accidents in 2013, although the number of fatal accidents doubled. Most accidents and serious incidents involved terrain collisions and engine malfunctions.

Safety message

Aviation occurrence statistics provide a reminder to everyone involved in the operation of aircraft that accidents, incidents, and injuries happen more often than is widely believed. Some of the most frequent accident types are preventable, particularly in general aviation. Pilots and operators should use the misfortunes of others to help identify the safety risks in their operation that could lead to a similar accident or serious incident.

Timely and thorough reporting of safety incidents is paramount. The ATSB’s capability to understand why accidents and incidents happen and to identify the major safety risks in different types of aviation operations is at its best when all aviation participants report all safety incidents. The information the ATSB provides helps everyone in the aviation industry to better manage their safety risk.

Type: Statistical Publication
Investigation number: AR-2014-084
Publication date: 5 November 2014
Related: Statistics
Last update 10 March 2016
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