ATSB Transport Safety Research Report Fatal Aircraft Accidents: Far North Queensland in Context


This research paper examined the number and rate of fatal accidents in Australia, Queensland and Far North Queensland involving aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 11,000 kg or less between 1990 and 2005. The latest year available for exposure data (number of landings, flying hours) was 2004. The purpose of this paper was to examine fatal accidents in Queensland, and specifically Far North Queensland, and provide a context in which to view the results. However, the examination of fatal aircraft accidents from a regional or state perspective raised issues that limited the conclusions that could be drawn from the results. These issues included the generally independent relationship between a fatal accidents contributory factors and the accident location, the availability of suitable activity data and the low number of fatal accidents and fatalities in Australia. Hence, the results described below indicate what happened in a particular area of Australia as opposed to the level of aviation safety. The inter-state analyses showed that between 1990 and 2005, the majority of the 318 fatal accidents involving aircraft with a MTOW of 11,000 kg or less occurred in Queensland (n = 102), NSW/ACT (n = 102) and Victoria (n = 37). In terms of fatalities, the highest number occurred in Queensland, where 225 of the 647 fatalities in Australia occurred. There were 0.9 fatal accidents and 1.9 fatalities per 100,000 landings in Queensland between 1990 and 2004, compared with the national rates of 0.7 and 1.3 respectively. Tasmania recorded the highest fatal accident and fatality rates of 1.8 and 4.1 respectively. However, the significance of these rates should be interpreted with caution due to the low number of fatal accidents and activity in Tasmania. Across Queensland, almost half the 102 fatal accidents occurred in the South region of the state with the remaining fatal accidents almost evenly distributed across the Central (n = 19), North (n = 19) and Far North regions (n = 17). The South region of Queensland recorded the lowest fatal accident rate of all the regions, with 0.7 fatal accidents per 100,000 landings between 1990 and 2004. The Central and North regions both recorded 1.2 fatal accidents per 100,000 landings and Far North Queensland recorded a rate of 1.0. Of the 225 fatalities in Queensland, South Queensland (83) recorded the highest number of fatalities followed by the Far North (64), North (42) and Central (36) regions between 1990 and 2005. However, South Queensland recorded the lowest fatality rate with 1.3 fatalities per 100,000 landings between 1990 and 2004. The Central, North and Far North regions recorded 2.3, 2.6 and 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 landings respectively. The Far North Queensland rate does not include the 15 fatalities that occurred in the Lockhart River accident in 2005, which would further increase the North Queensland fatality rate. A fluctuation in fatality numbers, such as that arising from the Lockhart River accident, highlights the influence a single aircraft accident can have when fatal accident and fatality numbers are relatively low.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Publication date: 1 November 2006
Related: Statistics
Last update 07 April 2014
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