Filed Under:Risk Management, Loss Control

Germanwings aside, 2015 was a safe year for airlines, IATA says

A plane that skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport hangs over the edge of the runway in New York, Thursday, March 5, 2015. The plane, from Atlanta, skidded off the runway while landing, and crashed through a chain-link fence. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
A plane that skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport hangs over the edge of the runway in New York, Thursday, March 5, 2015. The plane, from Atlanta, skidded off the runway while landing, and crashed through a chain-link fence. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Bloomberg) -- Last year was one of the safest for airlines with the number of fatal accidents falling by two thirds — if you excluded more than 300 deaths resulting from a pilot suicide and possible terror attack.

There were four fatal accidents, all involving turboprop aircraft, in 2015, down from 12 a year earlier, the International Air Transport Association said Monday. These killed 136 people. The 374 dead passengers and crew from the crash of Germanwings 9525 by a suicidal pilot and Metrojet 9268 on suspected terrorism have been excluded because they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference, the group said.

Flying is getting safer, and the industry is working to minimize the risk of deliberate acts from mental health and security issues reccurring, IATA said in a statement issued before the Singapore Airshow. All regions except North America saw their safety performance improve in 2015 over the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, the group said.

“In terms of the number of fatal accidents, it was an extraordinarily safe year,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We were all shocked and horrified by two deliberate acts” but the industry “continues to work to minimize the risk that such events will happen again,” he said.

Other key points from IATA data:

  • There was one major accident for every 3.1 million flights last year, or a rate of 0.32. The rate, measured in hull losses per 1 million flights, was worse than the 0.27 in 2014 and an improvement from 0.46 in the five-year period of 2010 to 2014.
  • The 136 fatalities compare with 641 in 2014 and the five-year average of 504. Including the Germanwings and Metrojet tragedies, the death toll was 510 last year.
  • Six percent of all accidents were fatal, below the five-year average of 19.6%.
  • For modern jets, there were no hull-loss accidents with passenger fatalities, down from three in 2014 and the five-year average of 6.4 a year.
  • There were 10 hull-loss accidents involving jets, down from eight in 2014 and the five-year average of 13 a year.
  • The Asia-Pacific region’s jet hull-loss rate fell to 0.21 from 0.56 in the five-year period, North Asia’s improved to zero from 0.06, and Europe had a better rate of 0.15 compared with 0.18. North America’s rate worsened to 0.32 from 0.13.
  • IATA defines a hull loss as an accident in which an aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and isn’t subsequently repaired for whatever reason including a financial decision of the owner.

--With assistance from Anand Menon.

Related: Leaving on a jet plane? Here are the top 20 safest airlines for 2016

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