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ATSB released its annual statistical review of Australian aviation safety occurrences over 2017
22 December 2018

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its annual statistical review of Australian aviation safety occurrences over 2017.

In 2017, nearly 200 aircraft were involved in accidents in Australia, with 203 involved in a serious incident (an incident with a high probability of an accident). There were 40 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2017, which was a significant increase from the 21 fatalities in 2016. There were no fatalities in either high or low capacity regular public transport (RPT) operations, which has been the case since 1975 and 2010 respectively.

Almost half of all fatalities that occurred in commercial air transport operations during the study period occurred in 2017. During 2017, there were 14 fatalities from 21 accidents in commercial air transport operations, 21 fatalities from 93 accidents in general aviation operations, and five fatalities from 53 accidents in recreational aviation operations.

Terrain collisions were the most common accidents or serious incidents for aircraft involved in general aviation, recreational aviation and remotely piloted aircraft in 2017. Aircraft control, followed by terrain collisions, were the most common occurrence type associated with an accident or serious incident for aircraft involved in air transport operations.

Wildlife strikes, including birdstrikes, were again the most common type of incident involving both commercial air transport and general aviation operations.

The accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect their higher‑risk operational activity when compared to commercial air transport operations. They also reflect the significant growth in recreational aviation activity over the last ten years and this sector’s increased reporting culture. The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are nine times more likely to have an accident than commercial air transport operations, with recreational operations around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation operations.

The fatal accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are around fifteen times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations, and recreational operations are almost 30 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations.

Since 2016, the increased availability and use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) saw them match helicopters as the second highest aircraft type for reported accidents. However, there were no collisions with other aircraft, fatalities or serious injuries relating to RPA reported to the ATSB. While the consequences of an accident involving an RPA have been low to date, their increased use, and possible interactions with traditional aviation, is an emerging trend in transport safety that will continue to be monitored closely by the ATSB.

Australian Air Transport accidents and (serious) incidents 2008-2017

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