The IATA 2020 Safety Report

News / 04 May, 2021

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published on March 2021 the IATA 2020 Safety Report about Airline Safety Performance for the commercial airline industry, and it shows some intriguing numbers.




Safety & Reliability

The IATA 2020 Safety Report

The report shows the following data :

  • Total flight operations were reduced by 53% in 2020
  • All-accident rate has increased compared to the average of the five previous years (2016-2020)
  • In 2020, all-accident rate was of 1.71 accidents per million flights
  • There have been 1.38 accidents per million flights during the last five year period (2016-2020)

These numbers are in fact full of surprises. The report observes that the all-accident rate has increased when the total flight operations have actually decreased! The numbers show that the all-accident rate remains the same even though the number of flights has declined. However, the number of all-accidents should also diminish by the same ratio.

A simple reason to explain this phenomenon is that the significant reduced number of flights in 2020 revealed and amplified the impact of each accident in the computation of the all-accident rate. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the year 2020 was less safe to travel than the year 2019. On the contrary, the number of accidents and fatal accidents have decreased, the fatality risk has remained unchanged and even better, for the first time in 15 years there were no in-flight loss of control accidents.

By comparing the 2020 latent conditions of aircrafts accidents with the 2016-2020 period, two major latent conditions stand out to explain the reasons behind these accidents: Selections Systems and Management Decisions, whereas Safety management follows right behind (the terms are defined below).

In a positive note, aircrafts accidents due to Design have reduced in 2020 compared to the 2016-2020 period.

The IATA Safety Report points out the importance and criticality to conduct safety assessment throughout the life cycle of aircrafts systems in order to properly identify risks and hazards and mitigate them to achieve better safety and reliability.

Our Aviation Team supports your development of aviation products and systems by taking care of functional safety aspects during the development phases. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Latent conditions examples [1]:

  • Selection Systems: Deficient or absent selection standards.
  • Management Decisions: Cost cutting, Stringent fuel policy, Outsourcing and other decisions, which can impact operational.
  • Safety management: Absent or deficient Safety policy and objectives, Safety risk management (including hazard identification process), Safety assurance (including Quality Management) and Safety promotion.
  • Design: design shortcomings or manufacturing defects.

[1] Latent conditions examples from IATA Safety Report 2020, Issued April 2021, Edition 57, page 219

Author : Pamela Torche


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