The international commercial airline industry’s accident rate declined for the third straight year in 2016 to 1.61 accidents per million sectors flown, according to statistics released Friday by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The average annual accident rate over the previous five years (2011–2015) was 2.25 accidents per million sectors.
The number of fatal accidents and fatalities, however, increased last year from 2015. According to IATA, there were 10 fatal accidents resulting in 268 fatalities in 2016, up from four fatal accidents and 136 fatalities in 2015. The number of fatal accidents last year was still below the annual average for 2011–2015. The average for the five-year period was 13.4 fatal accidents resulting in 371.2 fatalities per year.
“Last year, some 3.8 billion travelers flew safely 40.4 million flights,” according to IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “The number of total accidents, fatal accidents and fatalities all declined versus the five-year average, showing that aviation continues to become safer. We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long distance travel,” he said.
The IATA statistics are for scheduled or charter commercial passenger or cargo operations in turbine-powered aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of at least 5,700 kg (12,540 lb). Executive jet operations, training and maintenance/test flights are excluded.