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.
In the 10-year period of 2005 to 2014, 254 aircraft have been involved in fatal accidents in Australia, leading to 374 fatalities. Most fatalities (240) were in CASA-registered (VH registrations) general aviation aircraft (including aerial agriculture, mustering, search and rescue, flying training, private and sport operations). Non-CASA registered recreational aircraft (aeroplanes, weight shift hang gliders, trikes, paragliders and powered parachutes, and gyrocopters) accounted for 98 fatalities. Commercial air transport (passenger regular public transport, charter and medical transport) accounted for 36 fatalities.
Across the 10-year period, the accident rate per hours flown was the highest for recreational aeroplanes, followed by aerial agriculture and private and sport aviation. However, all VH registered private and sport operations (including gliding) had a similar accident rate as that for all non-VH recreational flying combined. Recreational aircraft, private/sport, and aerial agriculture operation types were among the most likely to result in a fatal accident when considering the amount of flying activity. Within recreational aviation, half of all gyrocopters accidents were fatal and almost a third of weight shift aircraft accidents were fatal.
In 2014 alone, there was a total of 278 aircraft involved in accidents, and 202 involved in serious incidents (indicating an accident nearly occurred). Twenty aircraft were involved in fatal accidents, and another 28 resulted in serious injury. In 2014, Australia saw 28 fatalities and 36 serious injuries as a result of aviation accidents.
Commercial air transport recorded no fatalities in 2014. However, there were 27 accidents, an increase compared to the 10-year average of 19. Five of the accidents resulted in seven serious injuries. Most accidents (23) involved charter aircraft, and were mostly collision with terrain or failure of the landing gear. The 37 serious incidents (mostly aircraft separation and pilot incapacitation events) was a significant drop compared to the previous 2 years.
General aviation experienced 149 accidents in 2014 (the highest in 10 years), 11 of which were fatal (the lowest in 10 years) and another 15 resulted in serious injuries. These accidents led to 17 fatalities and 20 serious injuries. General aviation aircraft were involved in 118 serious incidents in 2014. In 2013 – the last year with available activity data – the general aviation accident rate per departure was almost five times that of commercial air transport. The year 2013 saw a significant decrease in the accident rate compared with the previous 6 years. However, the fatal accident rate was consistent with the 10-year average. Aerial agriculture, followed by private and sport aviation had the highest general aviation accidents rates, while flying training had the lowest.
The reporting of safety incidents to the ATSB from recreational (non-VH) aviation has increased more than tenfold in the last 10 years. This is due to both the growth in recreational flying and improving awareness of reporting requirements. In 2014, 99 accidents were reported, nine of which were fatal and another eight leading to serious injuries. Most accidents involved aeroplanes, as these are the most common recreational aircraft.
Download the PDF report Aviation Occurrence Statistics AR-2015-082