2021 Aviation Safety HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY or BOTH

1/2 empty 1/2 full
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Two Different Headlines–RISKS & IMPROVEMENT

Both based on 2021 Data and SMS

FSF 1/2 empty- things needed to fix

IATA 1/2 full- airlines doing better



Two headlines appear to tell very different stories about the same set of facts:

FSF Highlights Persistent Risks in Analysis of 2021 Accident Data


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released 2021 safety performance data for the commercial airline industry showing strong

improvement in several areas compared to both 2020 and to the five years 2017-2021.

 Foundation President and CEO Dr. Hassan Shahidi.  Dr. Hassan Shahidi’s focus is how commercial aviation might get better. Flight Safety Foundation has been a, if not THE, leading apostle of Safety Management Systems (SMS). Thus, his organization’s Report (“which is based on an analysis of data and information drawn from the Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network (ASN) database”) highlights “runway excursions, loss of control‒in flight and controlled flight into terrain”. As the document emphasizes “[t]he purpose of this report… and an ongoing assessment of risks introduced by the pandemic, is to bring these issues to the attention of the operators, regulators and global aviation stakeholders.

The almost 4,000 word report examines in detail the data points found in the ASN records; so, the readers will have greater insight how the macro numbers relate to their individual set of assets (pilots, planes, mechanics, cabin personnel, training capabilities, etc.) and their specific operational parameters (flight hours-per-day-per-aircraft, weather, MX cycles, route structure, etc.). This transition from the BIG NUMBERS to your organization is one of the important calculations in SMS.

Not surprisingly, IATA’s DG Walsh emphasizes the extraordinary safety  efforts of his Members and the  IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registrants. The air carrier association alsoIATA DG WALSH acknowledges the risks incurred in 2021 and orates that the airlines are already addressing them.

IATA, particularly, examines the safety numbers by region. With few, if any Members in these areas, the association’s message may be directed to the Civil Aviation Authorities in those countries.

safety map

The conflicting views ( ½  full or ½ empty) are both valid. Their conclusions are the result of their perspective in analyzing the data. FSF’s mission is to find how aviation can reduce risk. IATA has created a methodology to identify each members’ exposure and its statement confirms that their preventative actions are effective, while admitting that safety is a continuous cycle of searching for improvements.

matter of perspective


2021 FSF Safety Report

FSF Highlights Persistent Risks in Analysis of 2021 Accident Data

by FSF Communications Staff | February 22, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia Runway excursions, loss of controlin flight and controlled flight into terrain accounted for nearly 30 percent of all airliner accidents in 2021, according to Flight Safety Foundation’s 2021 Safety Report. The report, released today, is based on an analysis of preliminary accident data and information contained in the Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network (ASN) database.ASN

Commercial passenger and cargo operations involving aircraft certified to carry at least 14 passengers had 44 accidents in 2021, of which 11 were fatal accidents that resulted in 123 fatalities among passengers and crew, plus one person killed on the ground. Noncommercial operations, such as training, surveying and ferry flights using the same types of aircraft, recorded 26 accidents last year. Nine of those accidents were fatal, resulting in 50 fatalities. Corporate jets were involved in 28 accidents last year. Nine of the accidents were fatal, resulting in 36 fatalities among passengers and crew.

fsf stats“Loss of control and runway safetyrelated events continue to be high-occurrence risk areas that demand attention, said Foundation President and CEO Dr. Hassan Shahidi. “We urge aviation stakeholders to redouble their efforts to proactively mitigate these and other risks, especially as the aviation sector in regions around the world begins to recover after more than two years of reduced operations.”

In addition, the Foundation’s ongoing assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on global aviation identified a unique set of challenges for the industry, including changes to the operating environment and regulatory exemptions related to pilot proficiency checks and recency, license renewal and medical certificates, among others. “It is essential that these changes are identified and managed by operators through their safety management systems and by regulatory authorities through state safety programs,” Shahidi said.

IATA 2021 Safety Report
IATA Releases 2021 Airline Safety Performance

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released 2021 safety performance data for the commercial airline industry showing strong improvement in several areas compared to both 2020 and to the five years 2017-2021.

Highlights include:

  • Reductions in the total number of accidents, the all-accident rate and fatalities.
  • IATA members and airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry (which includes all IATA members) experienced zero fatal accidents last year.
  • No runway/taxiway excursion accidents, for the first time in at least 15 years.

IATA table
“The severe reduction in flight numbers last year compared to the 5-year average magnified the impact of each accident when we calculate rates. Yet in the face of numerous operational challenges in 2021, the industry improved in several key safety metrics. At the same time, it is clear that we have much work ahead of us to bring all regions and types of operations up to global levels of safety performance,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

Fatality Risk

The overall increase in the fatality risk in 2021 to 0.23 is owing to the rise in fatal turboprop accidents. There was one fatal accident involving jet aircraft last year and the jet fatality risk in 2021 was 0.04 per million sectors, an improvement over the 5-year average of 0.06.

The overall fatality risk of 0.23 means that on average, a person would need to take a flight every day for 10,078 years to be involved in an accident with at least one fatality.


IOSAIOSA is the global industry standard for airline operational safety audits and a requirement for IATA membership. It is used by numerous authorities in their regulatory safety programs.

  • Currently. 403 airlines are on the IOSA Registry, including 115 non-IATA Members.
  • The all-accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry in 2021 was more than six times better than the rate for non-IOSA airlines (0.45 vs. 2.86). 
  • The 2017-2021 average of IOSA airlines versus non-IOSA airlines was nearly three times as good. (0.81 vs. 2.37). All IATA member airlines are required to maintain their IOSA registration.

“The contribution of IOSA to improving safety was demonstrated in the superb results of airlines on the registry—regardless of region of operation. We will continue to evolve IOSA to support even better industry safety performance,” said Walsh.

Jet hull loss rates by region of operator (per 1 million departures) 

The global average jet hull loss rate declined slightly in 2021 compared to the five-year average (2017-2021). Five regions saw improvements, or no deterioration compared to the five-year average.

IATA table

Turboprop hull loss rates by region of operator (per 1 million departures)

turbo prop hull loss

Five regions showed improvement or no deterioration in the turboprop hull loss rate in 2021 when compared to the 5-year average. The only regions to see increases compared to the five-year average were the CIS and Africa. 

Although sectors flown by turboprops represented just 10.99% of total sectors, accidents involving turboprop aircraft represented 50% of all accidents, 86% of fatal accidents and 49% of fatalities in 2021.

“Turboprop operations will be a focus area to identify ways and means to reduce the number of incidents related to certain aircraft types,” said Walsh.

Safety in CIS

Airlines based in the CIS region experienced no fatal jet accidents in 2021 for the second consecutive year. However, there were four turboprop accidents. Three of these resulted in 41 fatalities, accounting for more than a third of 2021 fatalities. None of the airlines involved was on the IOSA registry.

Safety in Africa

Airlines based in sub-Saharan Africa experienced four accidents in 2021, all with turboprop aircraft, three of which resulted in 18 fatalities. None of the operators was on the IOSA registry. There were no jet hull loss accidents in 2021 or 2020. 

The priority for Africa is the implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS). At year-end 2021, some 28 African countries (61% of the total(i)) had 60% or greater SARPS implementation. In addition, a focused multi-stakeholder approach to specific states will be important to addressing repeated occurrences.

Source: IATA Press Release

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