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ATSB released Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2007-2016
15 January 2018

ATSB released Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2007-2016

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released the annual Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2007 to 2016.

In 2016, nearly 230 aircraft were involved in accidents in Australia, with another 291 aircraft involved in a serious incident. There were 21 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2016, which was fewer than any previous year recorded by the ATSB. 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.

Commercial air transport operations experienced one fatality from 15 accidents; general aviation experienced 10 fatalities from 119 accidents; and recreational aviation had 10 fatalities from 63 accidents.

Collision with terrain was the most common accident or serious incident for general aviation aircraft, recreational aviation and remotely piloted aircraft in 2016. Aircraft control was the most common cause of an accident or serious incident for air transport operators.

Wildlife strikes, including birdstrikes, were again the most common types of incident involving air transport and general aviation operations, with runway events the most common type of incident for recreational aviation.

The accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect the higher‑risk operational activity when compared to 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.

General aviation accounts for one‑third of the total hours flown by Australian-registered aircraft and over half of all aircraft movements across Australia.

The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are 10 times more likely to have an accident than commercial operations, with recreational aircraft around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation.

The fatal accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are around 20 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport, and recreational operations are almost 40 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than air transport.

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ASN data show 2017 was safest year in aviation history

The Aviation Safety Network today released the 2017 airliner accident statistics showing an extremely low total of 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 fatalities. 

The year 2017 turned out to be the safest year ever for commercial aviation, Aviation Safety Network data show.

Over the year 2017 the Aviation Safety Network recorded a total of 10 fatal airliner accidents [1], resulting in 44 occupant fatalities and 35 persons on the ground. This makes 2017 the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities. In 2016 ASN recorded 16 accidents and 303 lives lost.

Five accidents involved cargo flights, five were passenger flights. Given the expected worldwide air traffic of about 36,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights.

The low number of accidents comes as no surprise, according to ASN President Harro Ranter: “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.”

On December 31, aviation had a record period of 398 days with no passenger jet airliner accidents. Additionally, a record period of 792 days passed since the previous civil aircraft accident claiming over 100 lives [2].

One out of 10 accident airplanes was operated by an airline on the E.U. “blacklist”.

[1] 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. Consequently, the June 7 accident involving a Myanmar Air Force Y-8F transport plane that killed 122 is not included.
When including military transport aircraft as well as non-commercial flights, the total number fatalities would be 230 in 24 fatal accidents. Still the lowest numbers in modern aviation history.

[2] Last fatal passenger jet airliner accident: 28 Nov. 2016, Avro RJ85 LaMia, near Medellin, Colombia
Last civil aircraft accident claiming over 100 lives: 31 Oct. 2015, Airbus A321 Metrojet, North Sinai, Egypt (224 fatalities)

The Aviation Safety Network is an independent organisation located in the Netherlands. Founded in 1996. It has the aim 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 the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). 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

Chinese authorities test drone-aircraft collision

CAAC drone collision test

On November 30, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) conducted the first test of a collision between a UAV (drone) and a passenger plane at the Xiangbei Experimental Base of Aviation Industry. This was done to determine the effects of a quad-copter drone hitting the front windshield of a passenger plane in flight.

For the test, an aircraft nose section was manufactured. The mock-up was not based on an actual aircraft model but similar to a domestic jetliner. Two DJI quad-copter drones were then positioned to hit the windshield. One test involved hitting the corner of a windshield, the other dead-center. The speed of the aircraft was described as ‘typical’.

Both outer cockpit window panes cracked as a result of the collision, photos show.

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Researchers release report on drone airborne collisions

A research team from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) released a report that concludes that drones that collide with large manned aircraft can cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed.

ASSURE conducted its research with two different types of drones on two types of aircraft through computer modeling and physical validation testing.
Unlike the soft mass and tissue of birds, most drones are made of more rigid materials. The testing showed that the stiffest components of the drone – such as the motor, battery and payload – can cause the most damage. Concentrating those masses on the drone can also cause greater damage, the researchers found.
The research team evaluated the potential impacts of a 2.7-lb. quadcopter and 4 lb. quadcopter; and a 4-lb. and 8-lb. fixed wing drone on a single-aisle commercial transport jet and a business jet. They examined impacts to the wing leading edge, the windshield, and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The windshields generally sustained the least damage and the horizontal stabilizers suffered the most serious damage.
The structural damage severity levels ranged from no damage to failure of the primary structure and penetration of the drone into the airframe. However, the research specifically did not explore the risk to flight imposed by that damage. The researchers concluded that unmanned aircraft system manufacturers should adopt “detect and avoid” or “geo-fencing” capabilities to reduce the probability of collisions with other aircraft.
The team conducted a preliminary computer simulation to evaluate the potential damage to engine components if a drone is ingested into an aircraft engine, including damage to fan blades, the nacelle and the nosecone. They plan future additional research on engine ingestion in collaboration with engine manufacturers, as well as additional airborne collision studies with helicopters and general aviation aircraft.
In 2014 Congress directed the FAA to establish a UAS Center of Excellence. The FAA selected ASSURE, led by Mississippi State University, in May 2015.

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UK Airprox Board (UKAB) notes rise in aircraft-drone encounters in 2016

UK Airprox Numbers – non-SUAS 20-year Trend

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) published their annual report over 2016. UKAB assessed 265 Airprox in 2016, of which 171 were aircraft-to-aircraft encounters and 94 involved drones/small unmanned air systems (SUAS).

The number of aircraft-to-aircraft encounters was similar to 2015 (when 177 incidents were reported) but the number of drone/SUAS encounters more than doubled compared to 2015 (there were 40 drone/SUAS incidents in 2015).

Of the 171 aircraft-to-aircraft incidents, 58 (34%) were assessed as risk-bearing events where safety was not assured (Risk Categories A & B). This represents a decrease compared to 2015 (when there were 177 overall aircraft-to-aircraft notifications with 79 (45%) risk-bearing outcomes).

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Eurocontrol publishes update of European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions

Eurocontrol published an update of the European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions (EAPPRI v 3.0).

Despite widespread implementation of the recommendations contained in the previous EAPPRI versions, the number of runway incursions affecting European and global airports remains a significant safety concern, Eurocontrol reports. The update v3.0 of the plan contains modifications to some existing recommendations to re-focus and re-energise ongoing actions being taken across the aviation industry to prevent runway incursions. In particular, EAPPRI v3.0 challenges the aviation industry to review the effectiveness of systemic runway incursion risk reduction activities associated with Safety Management Systems (SMS) and aerodrome local Runway Safety Teams.

The updated plan also contains a number of new recommendations. These range from new measures to enhance the safety of airside drivers who need to access runways through to facilitating air traffic controllers’ ‘heads up’ scanning so that, as far as practicable, they can maintain a continuous watch of aerodrome operations. Furthermore, there are recommendations encouraging State authorities to establish national runway safety teams and for the industry to move towards the graphical display of safety critical aerodrome information to pilots to improve their situational awareness.

U.K. Government releases results of drone / aircraft mid air collision damage study

The U.K. Government released the results of a drone / aircraft mid air collision study.

The study was commissioned by the U.K. Department for Transport, the Military Aviation Authority and British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) to determine effects of a mid-air collision between small remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, commonly known as a drones) and manned aircraft. The study was conducted by QinetiQ and Natural Impacts using laboratory collision testing and computer modelling.

The study aimed to find the lowest speed at collision where critical damage could occur to aircraft components. Critical damage was defined in this study to mean major structural damage of the aircraft component or penetration of drone through the windscreen into the cockpit.

The study has indicated that:

  • Non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreens have very limited resilience to the impact of a drone, well below normal cruise speeds.
  • The non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreen results can also be applied to general aviation aeroplanes which also do not have a birdstrike certification requirement.
  • Although the birdstrike certified windscreens tested had greater resistance than non-birdstrike certified, they could still be critically damaged at normal cruise speeds.
  • Helicopter tail rotors are also very vulnerable to the impact of a drone, with modelling showing blade failures from impacts with the smaller drone components tested.
  • Airliner windscreens are much more resistant, however, the study showed that there is a risk of critical windscreen damage under certain impact conditions:
    * It was found that critical damage did not occur at high, but realistic impact speeds, with the 1.2 kg class drone components.
    * However, critical damage did occur to the airliner windscreens at high, but realistic, impact speeds, with the 4 kg class drone components used in this study.
  • The construction of the drone plays a significant role in the impact of a collision. Notably, the 400 g class drone components, which included exposed metal motors, caused critical failure of the helicopter windscreens at lower speeds than the 1.2 kg class drone components, which had plastic covering over their motors. This is believed to have absorbed some of the shock of the collision, reducing the impact.
  • The testing and modelling showed that the drone components used can cause significantly more damage than birds of equivalent masses at speeds lower than required to meet birdstrike certification standards.

More information:

Audit: FAA needs to enhance its flight deck vulnerabilities mitigation efforts

According to an audit, the U.S. FAA has taken steps to identify flight deck vulnerabilities but needs to enhance its mitigation efforts.
In the wake of the pilot-suicide crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in March 2015, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein requested that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) evaluate the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of commercial airline flight deck safety. The audit objectives were to assess the effectiveness of FAA’s actions to (1) identify vulnerabilities to flight deck security, and (2) mitigate identified flight deck vulnerabilities.
The OIG made six recommendations to the FAA to improve cockpit safety and security; FAA concurred with three recommendations, partially concurred with one recommendation, and non-concurred with two recommendations. We are requesting that FAA reconsider its response for two recommendations.
The Department of Transportation has determined that this OIG report contains sensitive security information (SSI) and will therefore not be disclosed to the public.

AAIB and BEA issue annual safety reviews

The U.K. AAIB Annual Safety Review for 2016 contains information on the activity during 2016 and includes an overview of the 57 Safety Recommendations and Safety Actions published in the 36 field and 208 correspondence investigation reports during the year.

It also includes information on the occurrence factors established from the AAIB investigations, with articles on the AAIB’s use of simulators and drones in accident investigation.

The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) similarly published their annual report for 2016. During 2016 a total of 116 investigations were opened and 46 Safety Recommendations were issued.


Canadian committee recommends mandatory use of SMS for all commercial operators

A Canadian Parliament Committee issued a report to the federal government with 17 recommendations, aimed at enhancing aviation safety in Canada.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities heard 47 witnesses and received 11 briefs, leading to a report with 17 safety recommendations.


Notably the Committee recommends the mandatory implementation of a Safety Management System for all commercial operators in Canada, including the air taxi sector. Also, the federal government is urged to implement the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendation on 300-metre runway end safety areas.


  1. That Transport Canada use its proposed regulation for fatigue management, based on scientific evidence and with safety as a primary concern, for the purpose of soliciting comment and advice, while pursuing consultation with stakeholders, in order to find ways to take into account the specific operating conditions of certain regions.
  2. That Transport Canada review Interim Order No. 5 Respecting Flight Deck Occupants in consultation with stakeholders to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.
  3. That the federal government revise the 50:1 passenger to flight attendant ratio in consultation with stakeholders and experts on flight attendant ratios, while keeping the security of Canadians as a top priority.
  4. That the Minister of Transport examine best practices for flight training, striking a balance between in flight and simulator based training and certification for pilots. And that in his study, the Minister take into account recent technological advances, as well as seek input from industry and pilot associations.
  5. That Transport Canada reviews its decision to allow Transport Canada and Transportation Safety Board pilots to renew flight certifications using only simulators.
  6. That the implementation of a Safety Management System becomes mandatory for all commercial operators, including the air taxi sector.
  7. That Transport Canada:
    a. establish targets to ensure more on-site safety inspections versus Safety Management System audits;
    b. use poor results from Safety Management System audits (including whistleblower input) as a ‘flag’ for prioritizing on-site inspections;
    c. Review whistleblower policies to ensure adequate protection for people who raise safety issues to foster open, transparent and timely disclosure of safety concerns.
  8. That the government make sure that Safety Management Systems are accompanied by an effective, properly financed, adequately staffed system of regulatory oversight: monitoring, surveillance and enforcement supported by sufficient, appropriately trained staff.
  9. That Transport Canada review all training processes and training materials for civil aviation inspectors to ensure they have the resources to perform their duties effectively.
  10. That Transport Canada establish an expedited process for responding to Transportation Safety Board of Canada air safety related recommendations, including the backlog, and that an enhanced reporting system be adopted to prevent recommendations from languishing, without action, on the Transportation Safety Board Active Recommendations list regarding aviation.
  11. That Transport Canada invite the International Civil Aviation Organization to conduct a comprehensive audit of Canada’s civil aviation oversight system.
  12. That Transport Canada undertake an air safety review and report its findings back to Parliament.
  13. That the federal government produce an annual compliance report on Transport Canada’s implementation of any measures identified in the audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
  14. That the federal government implement the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and International Civil Aviation Organization recommendation on 300-metre runway end safety areas.
  15. That Transport Canada examine the various security databases upon which security clearances rely to ensure they are as current as possible.
  16. That the government increase the financing of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, in particular by making sure that the revenues from the fees paid by travelers are allocated to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
  17. That Transport Canada develop a plan and a timeline to address the specific operating conditions and infrastructure needs of airlines serving Northern Canada and small airports.