Safety in African aviation in the spotlight | Fin24

Safety in African aviation in the spotlight

Jun 07 2017 12:32
Carin Smith

Cancun – In 2016 aviation in sub-Saharan Africa had its best performance within the last decade, with zero passenger fatalities and zero jet hull losses, according to records kept by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Last year the all accident rate for sub-Saharan Africa was 2.30 per one million departures compared to 9.73 for the previous five years, Gilberto Lopez Meyer, senior vice president for safety and flight operations at Iata, told Fin24 at the association’s 73rd AGM.

He said Africa also saw continuing improvement in turboprop safety. The turboprop hull loss rate of 1.56 last year is 85% lower than the 10.51 yearly average during 2011 to 2015.

In terms of Iata’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) – an internationally recognised evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline – the 33 sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry performed nearly twice as well as non-IOSA airlines in 2016 in terms of all accidents. They also performed 7.5 times better than non-IOSA operators in the 2012 to 2016 period.

Going forward

Iata would like to see African nations maintain what it sees as a strong momentum regarding safety by making IOSA – or the IATA Standard Safety Assessment for carriers which do not qualify for IOSA – a part of their airline certification process.

Another aspect raised by Iata is that regional governments need to accelerate the implementation of the safety regulation standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

By the end of 2016 only 22 African countries had at least 60% implementation of these ICAO standards and recommendations.

According to Iata CEO Alexandre de Juniac, safety is the association’s top priority. He emphasised that flying is the safest form of long-distance travel by a wide measure.

In 2016 there were 40.4 million flight sectors globally and 10 fatal accidents with 268 fatalities. Over the period of 2011 to 2015 there were an average of 13.4 fatal accidents and 371 fatalities per year.

“While even a single accident is one too many, it is nevertheless a record of which we can be proud. At the same time, we constantly strive to do even better,” said De Juniac.

According to Lopez Meyer, runway excursions have been the most frequent category of accidents over the past five years. He pointed out that survivability of such accidents are high as it represents less than 1% of fatalities over the previous five years.

On the other hand, loss of control in flight is not one of the most common accident categories, but it has the highest number of fatalities.

Lopez Meyer said Iata will continue its data-driven, risk-based approach to safety. The Global Aviation Data Management (GADM), for instance, brings together a number of Iata safety databases and reporting systems to help identify potential risks.

“There is a big opportunity to harvest operational data and to use it for the benefit of the aviaton industry,” said Lopez Meyer.

“It is possible to increase operational performance, reduce costs for our members and most of all, improve safety for the whole industry, for example by using meteorological data to help crews avoid turbulence.”


Lopez Meyer reported that unmanned aerial systems (in other words drones) have been identified as an emerging risk to aviation safety and is a number one priority to address. Iata is working in the areas of safety, air traffic management and integrated operations in this regard.

“We remain concerned about close encounters involving drones,” said Lopez Meyer.

*Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

iata  |  iata agm  |  cancun  |  aviation industry


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