The Numbers behind the 2018 Airline Safety Numbers

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IATA Releases 2018 Airline Safety Performance

Better than most, but not as good as 2017


IATA’s data provides basis for proactive actions

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for the 2018 safety performance of the commercial airline industry showing continuing safety improvements over the long term, but an increase in accidents compared to 2017.

The all accident rate [I] (measured in accidents per 1 million flights) was 1.35, which was the equivalent of one accident for every 740,000 flights. This was an improvement over the all accident rate of 1.79 for the previous 5-year period (2013-2017), but a decline compared to 2017’s record performance of 1.11.

The 2018 rate for major jet accidents (measured in jet hull losses per 1 million flights) was 19, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 5.4 million flights. This was an improvement over the rate for the previous 5-year period (2013-2017) of 0.29 but not as good as the rate of 0.12 in 2017.

There were 11 fatal accidents with 523 fatalities among passengers and crew. This compares with an average of 8.8 fatal accidents and approximately 234 fatalities per year in the previous 5-year period (2013-2017). In 2017, the industry experienced 6 fatal accidents with 19 fatalities, which was a record low. One accident in 2017 also resulted in the deaths of 35 persons on the ground.

‘Last year some 4.3 billion passengers flew safely on 46.1 million flights. 2018 was not the extraordinary year that 2017 was. However, flying is safe, and the data tell us that it is getting safer. For example, if safety in 2018 had remained at the same level as 2013, there would have been 109 accidents instead of 62; and there would have been 18 fatal accidents, instead of the 11 that actually occurred.’ [II] said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

‘Flying continues to be the safest form of long distance travel the world has ever known. Based on the data, on average, a passenger could take a flight every day for 241 years before experiencing an accident with one fatality on board. We remain committed to the goal of having every flight takeoff and land safely,’ said de Juniac.”


It is difficult to ascribe the overall airline safety performance to any one definitive factor, but most safety experts believe that the numbers behind these numerical measures of safety are the reason. IATA is a leader in the quantification of risks in flight as a predictive method for proactive of risk reduction.

Global Aviation Data Management (GADM)


The Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) program is a data management platform, integrating all sources of operational data received from various channels. These include IATA-unique programs, such as Flight Operations, Infrastructure, and IATA audits, and all feed into a common, interlinked database structure.

Techniques to improve aviation safety have moved beyond the analyses of isolated accidents to data-driven analyses of trends and the interaction between the links in the air transport chain. This is what the GADM program is about.

GADM offers a comprehensive, cross-database analysis, supporting a proactive data-driven approach for advanced trend analysis and predictive risk mitigation.

IATA’s Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) program is the world’s most diverse aviation data exchange program. Data captured in GADM databases comprises accident and incident reports, ground damage occurrences and flight data from more than 470 different industry participants. “Through GADM, we are using information from the more than 100,000 flights that operate safely every day to identify and address operational issues before they can become potential risks,” said de Juniac.

Flight Data eXchange (FDX)

Flight Data eXchange (FDX) is an aggregated de-identified database of FDA/ FOQA type events that allows to identify commercial flight safety issues for a wide variety of safety topics. It covers many types of aircraft, across a global database. With FDX, flight operations and safety departments can proactively identify safety hazards.

With data from more than 100 airports, which makes up about 500 runways, operators are able to accomplish over 50 different types of runway specific safety analysis and hazard identification utilizing industry data, fine tuning their own operations to minimize risk.

Currently, more than a dozen different events are displayed by location including Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS/ TAWS) locations, Traffic Collision and Avoidance System (TCAS) events, Windshear warnings, Unstable approaches, Go-arounds, and high tailwind landing events.

How FDX works

  • Flight recorder data is supplied to IATA by participating airlines
  • Specialist software is used to de-identify the data which is processed against a pre-defined list of safety events
  • De-identified resulting data is displayed in the GADM-FDX website which has built in reporting tools
  • Benefits for the participants
  • Identify safety risks using aggregated de-identified FDA- FOQA results
  • Compare global statistics to your own airlines
  • Identify risks at new destinations for your airline
  • Receive IATA reports on specific topics
  • Main features
  • New results populated daily
  • View flight data event statistics covering over 50 different aircraft safety measures
  • Use Google Maps to understand where events occur by phase of flight, geographic location and airport
  • Query the database yourself using simple selection tools

The 2018 performance, particularly after the exceptional 2017 record, is an excellent reminder that VIGILANCE is a mandate for everyone involved in flight. Complacency is a sure path to problems. But striving for a higher level of risk reduction is a real goal if all involved accurately input the data, share it on a real time basis, analyze the numbers expeditiously, assessing the alternatives and acting immediately. 2019 can be even better and with the sad Flight 3591 IAH crash will further heighten everyone’s VIGILANCE.

Thanks IATA, FAA, EASA and ICAO for the numbers.



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