International Fatality Rates: A Comparison of Australian Civil Aviation Fatality Rates with International Data


How does Australias aviation safety record compare with that of other Western countries? To answer this, fatal accident and fatality rates for Australia were compared with similar rates for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, between 1995 and 2004 (the latest year for which comparable data was available). The ATSB aviation accident and incident database was searched to identify all fatal accidents involving Australian civil registered aircraft during this period. The dataset was then matched with comparable datasets for the overseas countries, taking into consideration the variation in operational definitions between the countries. In the period studied, Australia had no high capacity regular public transport fatal accidents and one low capacity regular public transport fatal accident. The key findings indicated that the fatal accident rate for Australian air carrier operations, which includes all regular public transport and commercial charter operations, was slightly higher than the rate for the United States for all years, except for 2002 when it was marginally lower, and for 2004, when the rate was zero. The fatal accident rates for the non-general aviation sector for both countries are largely influenced by the commercial charter (Australia) and on-demand (United States) operational categories, which each have a much higher fatal accident rate than scheduled airline services. In Australia, commercial charter operations account for 32 per cent of the total air carrier activity. This has a greater impact on the overall air carrier fatal accident rate compared with the United States, where on-demand operations account for only 15 per cent of the total air carrier activity. If Australias activity profile mirrored that of the United States, Australias overall fatal accident rate would fall below that of the United States. Both Australia and the United States recorded a significant downward trend for the general aviation fatal accident rate. For most years, the rate of fatal accidents for all operations in Australia was slightly lower than that for Canada. Australia also recorded a significant decline in the rate of non-public transport fatal accidents during this period compared with the United Kingdom. Australia recorded one low capacity regular public transport fatal accident, which resulted in eight fatalities, and New Zealand recorded two fatal accidents, which resulted in 10 fatalities. The general aviation fatal accident rate for Australia was lower than the rate recorded for New Zealand, and showed a downward trend. Overall, the findings showed that Australias fatal accident and fatality rates were mostly similar to the corresponding rates of the other countries examined. Using North America and the United Kingdom to represent worlds best practice and as a benchmark of aviation safety, the findings demonstrate that Australia has a good safety record.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Author(s): ATSB
Publication date: 11 August 2006
ISBN: 1 921092 37 8
Related: Statistics
Last update 07 April 2014
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