Aviation Safety Letter 2/2003
Accident Statistics — A Quick Look
Two years ago, in ASL 2/2001, we discussed accident statistics for the 1994-2000 period, indicating the total number of accidents for Canadian-registered aircraft per year (excluding ultralights), the total number of fatalities per year, and the five-year average for each category. The numbers from 1994 to 1998 are repeated here, but the keen reader who will retrieve the 2/2001 issue of ASL will notice slight variations; the totals may vary with time as the TSB updates the database as new information is received. The occurrence statistics can be found on the TSB Web site at http://www.tsb.gc.ca/.
Up until 1998, the numbers were relatively steady and showed little movement either way. If anything, the years 1997 and 1998 had us going the wrong way — UP! However, starting in 1999 and continuing in 2000, the numbers started a significant, constant decline. Well, the latest numbers have been released and we are pleased to report that the downward trend, which started in 1999 in both the number of accidents and fatalities, has been convincingly maintained. Just take a look:
Source: Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB)
The five-year average for accidents went from 371 for the 1994-1998 period, to 323 for the 1998-2002 period. The five-year average for fatalities, during the same time period, went from 84 to 65. Taking into account that these numbers are averaged over five years, the decreases are noteworthy. They once again indicate, as they did in 2001, that we are definitely on the right track.
In the 2001 report, there were substantial decreases in the totals for the commuter and air taxi sectors of the industry, while the private sector had registered increases to their five-year averages. This time around, while the commuters have remained on average and the air taxi segment has continued its downward trend, the largest improvement in the past two years has been registered in the private sector.
The commuter sector (fixed-wing only), for the 1998-2002 period, had 10, 13, 4, 8 and 6 accidents respectively. For the same five years, the air taxi segment (fixed-wing only) had 108, 70, 45, 37 and 40 accidents. While the numbers have steadied-out over the past two years, they are still below their five-year average (1998-2002) of 8.2 for commuters, and 60 for air taxi. Of particular interest, while the total number of accidents keeps decreasing, the numbers for helicopter accidents remain steady, with 57, 46, 53, 47 and 56 accidents for those same years. Therefore, the percentage of helicopter accidents compared with the total number of accidents is increasing every year (14.7% in 1998, up to 20.5% in 2002).
From 1998 to 2002, the private sector (including flying schools and clubs) had 153, 171, 174, 168 and 139 accidents respectively. The 2002 total, 139, is the lowest on record since 1989, when the TSB started recording these statistics.
Some amongst you may attribute these back-to-back declines to reduced flying after 9/11, but we can't help to believe that a measure of these successes can also be credited to a variety of joint safety initiatives between industry (you, the operators, and private flyers), agencies (TSB, NAV CANADA, associations, unions, etc.) and finally the government. Recent initiatives, from the 191 Moshansky Commission Recommendations (1989 accident at Dryden), to the 71 Safety of Air Taxi Operations Task Force (SATOPS) recommendations, to "Flight 2005: A Civil Aviation Safety Framework for Canada," and no less than 431 aviation safety recommendations from the TSB and its predecessor, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, have all helped to positively affect safety attitudes throughout our industry.
But like they say, even if you're on the right track, you'll still be run over if you just sit there, so we need to ensure that we attract, recruit and retain quality people to fill all those shoes. This year's Canadian Aviation Safety Seminar (CASS) is all about people. Scheduled for April 14 to 16, 2003, in Montréal, Québec, the theme of CASS 2003 is "Aviation Human Resources: The Core of Our Industry." It was developed to address the challenges the industry will face in the areas of personnel selection and recruitment, training, retention and knowledge transfer. For more information, check our Web site: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/publications/tp3658-menu-4715.htm.
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