iosa-IATA.png IATA

2018 Sees Uptick In Fatal Airlines Accidents

More safety audits, modern warning systems and better training are needed.

With 11 fatal accidents causing 523 fatalities, 2018 saw an increase in the rate of fatal airline accidents, after four years of steady decline, according to Gerardo Hueto, assistant director of safety and flight operations in the Pacific for IATA.

North Asia, Asia-Pacific, The Middle East, Europe and North America remain the safest regions, with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America and Africa less safe. However, the accident rate in Africa decreased in 2018, while in other regions it increased.

IATA-member airlines have generally proven safer than non-IATA members. Across the world, airlines that have passed IATA’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) have less than half the fatal accident rate of airlines that have not achieved this standard. For certain regions, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America and Africa, the difference in accident rates between IOSA and non-IOSA carriers is even more dramatic. More than 430 airlines are now on the IOSA registry, showing the importance carriers attach to these safey standards.

Last year and over the past five years, the two most important types of fatal accidents have consistently been loss of control inflight (LOC-I) and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), Hueto notes. Runway excursions are more frequent, but generally less deadly in their consequences.

The most common cause of LOC-I accidents is lack of awareness of either the aircraft’s energy state or its system state. Hueto says that system malfunction is also “an emerging issue.” For the first cause, lack of awareness, the IATA safety exec recommended better training, in upsets and recovery, crew resource management and go-arounds. 

CFIT accidents usually trace to lack of situational awareness, lack of modern technology or lack of GPS. Hueto urges installing the latest software for Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems. Traffic managers should also adopt minimum safe altitude warnings, he says. 

For runway excursions that occur on approaches and landings, Hueto says airlines need better pilot training and airports should install better warning systems.

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