IATA: Africa records improved safety record, 2023 best-ever for global aviation

African aviation received a major boost as the continent’s air safety recorded a significant improvement.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its 2023 Annual Safety Report for Global Aviation stated that the accident rate improved from 10.88 per million sectors in 2022 to 6.38 in 2023.

The continent according to IATA posted a better safety record than the 5-year average of 7.11 with no fatalities, highlighting that Africa has had no passenger jet hull losses or fatal accidents since 2020.

The situation marked the fifth occurrence of Africa reporting zero fatal turboprop accidents (the first instance was in 2015).

In June 2023, under its Focus Africa initiative, IATA introduced the Collaborative Aviation Safety Improvement Programme (CASIP) to enhance aviation safety in Africa.

Through CASIP, states are being encouraged to increase their implementation of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for aviation safety.

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Only 12 of Africa’s 54 states meet the minimum threshold of implementing no less than 75% of ICAO’s SARPS, signalling plenty of room for improvement.

Globally, aviation continues to make progress on safety with several 2023 parameters showing “best-ever” results. There were no hull losses or fatal accidents involving passenger jet aircraft in 2023.

However, there was a single fatal accident involving a turboprop aircraft, resulting in 72 fatalities. There were 37 million aircraft movements in 2023 (jet and turboprop), an increase of 17% on the previous year.

According to the clearing house for over 200 global airlines, the all-accident rate was 0.80 per million sectors in 2023 (one accident for every 1.26 million flights), an improvement from 1.30 in 2022 and the lowest rate in over a decade.

This rate outperformed the five-year (2019-2023) rolling average of 1.19 (an average of one accident for every 880,293 flights).

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It noted that the fatality risk improved to 0.03 in 2023 from 0.11 in 2022 and 0.11 for the five years, 2019-2023, stressing that at this level of safety, on average a person would have to travel by air every day for 103,239 years to experience a fatal accident.

Consequently, IATA member airlines and IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registered airlines experienced no fatal accidents in 2023.

A single fatal accident according to the airline body occurred in 2023, on a turboprop aircraft, resulting in 72 fatalities. This is reduced from five fatal accidents in 2022 and an improvement on the five-year average (2019-2023) which was five.

“2023 safety performance continues to demonstrate that flying is the safest mode of transport. Aviation places its highest priority on safety and that shows in the 2023 performance. Jet operations saw no hull losses or fatalities. 2023 also saw the lowest fatality risk and ‘all accident’ rate on record.”

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“A single fatal turboprop accident with 72 fatalities, however, reminds us that we can never take safety for granted. Two high-profile accidents in the first month of 2024 show that, even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve. This is what we have done throughout our history. And we will continue to make flying ever safer,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Wole Shadare