Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2002 to 2011


Why we have 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
There were 130 accidents, 121 serious incidents, and 6,823 incidents in 2011 involving VH-registered aircraft. These included a first officer who was thrown off a set of portable stairs by jet blast from a Boeing 747 at Brisbane Airport, a freight flight that disappeared while trying to land in the Torres Strait Islands, a Boeing 777 that flew just 1,000 feet above suburban Melbourne while on approach to land, and an ABC helicopter that was tragically lost on a flight over Lake Eyre.

General aviation operations continue to have an accident rate higher than for commercial air transport operations: in 2011, about four times higher for accidents, and nine times higher for fatal accidents.

Most commercial air transport accidents and serious incidents were related to reduced aircraft separation, and engine issues. Charter operations accounted for most of the accidents, including two fatal accidents in 2011. Air transport incidents were more likely to involve birdstrikes or a failure to comply with air traffic control instructions or published information.

For general aviation aircraft, accidents and serious incidents often involved terrain collisions, aircraft separation issues, or aircraft control problems. Where general aviation aircraft were involved in an incident, airspace incursions, failure to comply with air traffic control, and wildlife strikes were common.

In most operation types, helicopters had a higher rate of accidents and fatal accidents than aeroplanes, except for in charter operations. Even though the fatal accident rate is generally higher, helicopter accidents are on the whole associated with fewer fatalities than fixed-wing aircraft.

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 growth of reporting to the ATSB that has been seen over the last 10 years has helped us to better understand why accidents and incidents happen, and what the major safety risks are in different types of aviation operations. This helps everyone in the aviation industry to better manage their safety risk.

Type: Statistical Publication
Investigation number: AR-2012-025
Publication date: 29 May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-74251-268-8
Last update 07 April 2014
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