The Aviation Safety Network today released last year`s airliner accident statistics showing a total of 1059 airliner accident fatalities, as a result of 35 fatal accidents. Africa still is the most unsafe region with 13 accidents.Although the number of accidents was significantly lower than the ten-year average (40), the number of fatalities was almost equal to the 1995-2004 ten-year average. This was caused by the high number of serious accidents. In aviation history just five years suffered more than six accidents resulting in 100 or more fatalities. A positive downward trend in accidents can be seen for North-, Central and South America, Asia and Australasia. Europe`s steady decrease however was halted in 2005 at a ten-year average of 6,7 accidents.
Africa on the other hand remained the most unsafe continent with 13 fatal accidents (37%), while Africa only accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of all world aircraft departures. Eleven fatal passenger flight accidents in 2004 was an all-time low. However, 2005 showed a marked increase to 21. Although still lower than the ten-year average, measures seem necessary to continue a positive trend.
Where in 2004 cargo planes were reason for concern, 2005 showed a remarkable decrease in cargo plane crashes to eight. Last year`s accidents again highlighted the four aviation safety priorities, identified by the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF): * Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
CFIT occurs when an airworthy aircraft under the control of the flight crew is flown unintentionally into terrain, obstacles or water, usually with no prior awareness by the crew.
CFIT accidents in 2005 were probably responsible for almost one quarter of all fatal accidents, killing over 160. * Approach and landing
Twelve accidents happened in the approach and landing phase last year, killing 228 passengers and crew members. * Loss of control
Again several accidents last year can be attributed to a loss of control of some kind. In August an MD-80 crashed when the flight crew were not able to recover from an engine flameout, airplane stall and high speed descent at night over unlit mountainous terrain. All 160 on board were killed. * Human factors
As most accident investigations are not completed yet, it’s too early to tell in what cases human actions were a causal factor in accidents in 2005. However the investigation into the August 14 crash of a Cypriot Boeing 737 plane in Greece will surely focus on questions like why the Pressurization Mode Selector (PMS) was left in the “Manual” position after maintenance, why the crew did not detect this, how the crew interpreted the various warnings and indications and that the aircraft did nor pressurize after takeoff. Another issue will be the intra-cockpit communications.
It must be stressed that human factors does not mean “pilot error”; in human factors it is important to determine which mistakes were made, why, under what circumstances etc.