(Please note, this matter is not currently being litigated in Australia)In January, we wrote on 2013 air accident statistics as reported by the Flight Safety Foundation. On 10 April 2014, the ICAO released its own report on air safety in 2013. This document provides a valuable summary of the typical causes of fatal accidents for regular scheduled commercial flights worldwide.
This release of information confirms that, due to the presumed death of 239 passengers and crew on MH370/CZ748, 2014 is already a significantly darker year in terms of air safety when compared with 2013 (in which ICAO reports there were 173 fatalities on commercial flights).
There were three high risk accident occurrence categories: i.e., runway safety related events, loss of control in-flight, and controlled flight into terrain. These high risk categories for 2013 relate to 78% of the fatal accidents and 80% of the reported fatalities.
While the loss of control in-flight occurrence category represented only 3% of all accidents, ICAO reported that this category is of most significant concern as it accounted for 33% of all fatal accidents and 60% of all the fatalities for the year.
The statistics for 2013 show the accident rate was 2.8 accidents per million departures. This was at least 10% lower than the previous accident rates between 2009 and 2012.
The accident category of most concern, loss of control in flight, generally means a loss of control that is not recoverable and does not include those instances where the aircraft was flown into terrain in a controlled manner such as runway undershoots, or overshoots, or collisions with obstacles during take-off and landing.
Causes for the safety statistics not identified
The ICAO report makes no reference to the contribution of cockpit automation on loss of control in flight. The report is purely statistical but given the efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on this as a substantive cause for concern, particularly following the Asiana Airways crash in San Francisco last year, it is clear that analysis is needed to determine whether this trend and, indeed the disappearance of MH 370, can at least in part be attributed to such factors.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 16, 2014.