Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2003 to 2012


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 2012, there were 107 accidents, 195 serious incidents, and over 7,300 incidents reported to the ATSB involving Australian (VH– registered) aircraft, and a further 570 occurrences that involved foreign-registered aircraft operating within Australia or its airspace.

Commercial air transport aircraft were involved in the majority of incidents reported each year, and in 2012 the most common safety incidents reported were animal strikes, non-compliance with publish information or air traffic control instructions, and aircraft system and airframe issues. Most accidents and serious incidents related to reduced aircraft separation and engine malfunction.

General aviation aircraft, such as aircraft conducting flying training, aerial work, or private/pleasure flying, were involved in 38 per cent of occurrences reported to the ATSB in 2012. Airspace incursions, compliance with air traffic control, and birdstrikes were the most common incidents reported, with most accidents and serious incidents involving terrain collisions, engine failures, and a loss of aircraft control. Private/business operations had the highest number of fatal accidents in 2012 out of any year in the last 10 years, with 15 fatal accidents resulting in 22 fatalities. In contrast, commercial aerial work operations recorded the lowest number of accidents in the past 10 years.

In most operation types, helicopters had a higher rate of accidents and fatal accidents than aeroplanes.

A new addition to the ATSB’s aviation statistics are data on recreational (non–VH) aircraft safety. In 2012, the majority of the 274 occurrences reported were controlled airspace incursions, engine malfunctions, aircraft control problems, and runway events such as veer-offs.

Over the past 10 years, aerial agriculture had the most accidents and fatal accidents per hour flown, followed by private/business operations. Aerial survey and aerial mustering had the next highest accident and fatal accident rates.

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-2013-067
Publication date: 30 October 2013
Publication number: AR-2013-067
Last update 02 May 2016
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