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ASN Accident Statistics Highlight Need for More Work on Runway Excursions, Conflict Zones
6 January 2021

The international airline industry in 2020 suffered eight fatal accidents resulting in 314 fatalities, both of which are below the industry’s five-year average, according to statistics released today by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Included in the 2020 totals are two events in which airliners were inadvertently shot down, killing 182 passengers and crew.

Eight fatal accidents are the fewest on record for a full year. The safest year in aviation history was 2017 with 10 fatal accidents and 44 lives lost.

The global COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the aviation industry in 2020, causing a significant drop in the number of flights operated. Industry studies suggest that worldwide air traffic in 2020 was about half of that in 2019. Just over 19 million flights were operated last year, which is about the same number as were flown in 1999, when ASN registered 43 fatal accidents resulting in 689 fatalities.

Major improvements have been made in aviation safety over the past 20 years, but significant challenges remain, and two of those were underscored in 2020: approach and landing accidents and commercial flights over conflict zones.

Runway excursion accidents in Turkey and India resulted in 23 fatalities.

“These two runway excursion accidents highlight the fact that much still needs to be done to prevent overruns and to make sure runway environments follow International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendations,” said ASN CEO Harro Ranter.

“International aviation provides critical economic and social connectivity, but the global nature of aviation can put it at risk when flights overfly conflict zones,” said Foundation President and CEO Dr. Hassan Shahidi. “All countries must adhere to established ICAO guidance on aircraft flying through conflict zones. It is the responsibility of the state to provide timely risk information to airlines during military conflict and to close its airspace if necessary.”

The ASN statistics are based on all worldwide fatal commercial aircraft accidents (passenger and cargo flights) involving civil aircraft of which the basic model has been certified for carrying 14 or more passengers.

The Aviation Safety Network is an independent organisation located in the Netherlands. Founded in 1996, its goal is to provide everyone with a professional interest in aviation with up-to-date, complete and reliable authoritative information on airliner accidents and safety issues. ASN is an exclusive service of Flight Safety Foundation. The figures have been compiled using the airliner accident database of the Aviation Safety Network, the internet leader in aviation safety information. The Aviation Safety Network uses information from authoritative and official sources.

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Harro Ranter
the Aviation Safety Network
e-mail: hr@aviation-safety.net
twitter: @AviationSafety