Africa records two crashes, no hull loss jet accident in 2020-IATA

  • Global accidents decreased from 52 in 2019 to 38 in 2020


Airlines based in sub-Saharan Africa experienced six accidents last year, two of which were fatal, both involving turboprop aircraft.

This is the same number of fatal accidents that occurred in 2019, nevertheless the fatality risk increased owing to the fact that there were fewer flights last year. There were no hull loss accidents involving jet aircraft in 2020.

The International Air Transport Association (AITA) made the disclosure in its publication of the 2020 Safety report and released data for the 2020 safety performance of the commercial airline industry.

The release of the 2020 Safety Report according to IATA is a reminder that even as aviation faces its deepest crisis, they are committed to making aviation even safer.

IATA noted that the focus in Africa continues to be on accelerating the implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS).

According to the clearing house for global airlines, at year-end 2020, some 28 African countries (61% of the total) had at least 60% SARPS implementation, unchanged from 2019.


2020 2019 5-year average
(2016- 2020)
All accident rate (accidents per one million flights) 1.71 or 1 accident every 0.58 million flights 1.11 or 1 accident every 0.9 million flights 1.38 or 1 accident every 0.75 million flights
Total accidents 38 52 52.4
Fatal accidents(ì) 5 (3 jet and 2 turboprop) with 132 fatalities(ìí) 8 with 240 fatalities 7.6 with 222.4 fatalities
Fatality risk 0.13 0.9 0.13
Jet hull losses (per one million flights) 0.21 which is equal to 1 major accident for every 4.8 million flights 0.15 (one major accident for every 6.6 million flights) 0.20 (one major accident for every 5 million flights)
Turboprop hull losses (per one million flights) 1.59 (1 hull loss for every 0.63 million flights) 0.69 (1 hull loss for every 1.45 million flights) 1.07 (1 hull loss for every 1.0 million flights)

Jet hull loss rates by region of operator (per 1 million departures) 


Director-General of IATA, Alexandria de Juniac said, “While we recognize the extraordinary challenges in 2020 that touched on all aspects of aviation, we hope that we will see additional movement in this number as the pandemic recedes.”

IATA also continues to work closely with all key stakeholders in the region. The group and African Airlines Association (AFRAA) joined forces with the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) on a three-year safety project to provide technical support to the African air operators of states party to the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) to ensure they achieve and maintain global aviation safety standards.

The all accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry according to IATA, was nearly three times better than that of non-IOSA airlines for 2020 (1.20 vs. 3.29).

The 2016-2020 average of IOSA airlines versus non-IOSA airlines was more than twice as good (0.99 vs. 2.32). All IATA member airlines are required to maintain their IOSA registration. There are currently 438 airlines on the IOSA registry of which 142 are non-IATA Members.

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The global average hull loss rate rose slightly in 2021 compared to the five-year average (2016-2020) despite improvement in five regions.

Region 2020 2016 – 2020
Global 0.21 0.20
Africa 0.00 0.28
Asia Pacific 0.62 0.30
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 1.37 1.20
Europe 0.31 0.14
Latin America and the Caribbean 0.00 0.39
Middle East and North Africa 0.00 0.34
North America 0.00 0.10
North Asia 0.00 0.03

Turboprop hull loss rates by region of operator (per 1 million departures)

On the global front, it said the total number of accidents decreased from 52 in 2019 to 38 in 2020, while the total number of fatal accidents decreased from eight in 2019 to five in 2020.

It further stated that with a fatality risk of 0.13 for air travel, on average, a person would have to travel by air every day for 461 years before experiencing an accident with at least one fatality, just like on average; a person would have to travel every day for 20,932 years to experience a 100% fatal accident.

According to de Juniac,“Flying is safe, although the industry did take a step back on performance in 2020. The severe reduction in flight numbers magnified the impact of each accident when we calculate rates. But numbers don’t lie, and we will not allow this to become a trend. We will have even sharper focus on safety during this period of reduced operations and as flight schedules are rebuilt when the world reopens,” said de Juniac.

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Six regions showed improvement or no deterioration in the turboprop hull loss rate in 2020 when compared to their respective five-year averages. Accidents involving turboprop aircraft represented 29% of all accidents and 40% of fatal accidents in 2020.

Region 2020 2016 – 2020
Global 1.59 1.07
Africa 13.02 4.93
Asia Pacific 0.00 0.58
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 0.00 13.75
Europe 0.00 0.00
Latin America and the Caribbean 2.35 0.73
Middle East and North Africa 0.00 1.44
North America 0.00 0.30
North Asia 0.00 0.00


For the first time in more than 15 years there were no Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) accidents, which have accounted for the largest share of fatalities since 2016.

“The lack of any such events in 2020 was a positive development. Nevertheless, based on the initial reports from the investigation into the tragic loss of Sriwijaya Air SJ 182 early in 2021, we must continue to learn and improve,” said de Juniac.

Wole Shadare