Air transport, even safer in 2015

Extraordinarily safe» is the expression used by the International Air Transport Association, IATA, to characterize the year 2015. In its latest assessment of air safety, the association has revealed that the number of accidents and the scale of human losses have never been so low.
transport aérien Plane crash in Taiwan © 玄史生 , CC BY-SA 3.0

In the past year, 68 plane crashes involving all kinds of aircrafts have been reported, only four of which caused the disappearance of passengers and crew members. In comparison with 2014, the year 2015 in terms of air transport reported a 79% decrease in deaths which went from 641 to 136, while the number of accidents dwindled down to 13%.

For the record, the annual average for the recent five years (2010-2014) is set at 90 accidents, 17.6 of which are deadly, with 504 people killed.

With one major crash for 3.1 million flights, the rate of global loss history, measured by the number of hull losses per million of flights, is set at 0.32. This percentage is improving by 30% in comparison with the 2010-2014 period under study.

As a reminder, 3.5 billion passengers travelled in 2015 on board of 37.6 million flights around the world.

The IATA's survey ruled out the two deadliest events of 2015, that is, the crashes of Germanwings and Metrojets. Both catastrophes were characterized as deliberate acts of “unlawful interference” and not as the result of a hazard.

On March 24, an A320 airbus of the airliner Germanwings, subsidiary of Lufthansa, crashed in the French Alps. The investigation found that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the aircraft against the mountain.

Late October, a Russian plane of the company Metrojet crashed in Sinai, Egypt with 224 passengers on board. Characterized as a terrorist attack, the event was triggered by the explosion of a device embarked on board. Both crashes claimed the lives of 374 passengers and crew members, bringing the actual total number of deaths in 2015 to 510 people.

Air transport safety at the regional level

The global rate of air travel safety has improved tremendously in recent years. Measured by the number of hull losses in million flights, this percentage dwindled down in all areas of the globe in 2015, except in North America.

Africa, whose loss history index (3.49) remains much higher than the global average (0.32), has posted notable improvement of this indicator in comparison with the five-year average set at (3.69).
For the Middle East and North Africa, this index is of 0% compared to the 1% average reported over five years.

Air transport: Rate of hull losses per region

Region2015 ratesAnnual average rate 2010-2014
Latin America and the Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
North America
North Asia

Sub-Saharan African companies reported four hull losses in 2015, two of which involving planes powered by jet engine:

  • In Congo, a cargo plane made a runway excursion causing the death of 8 people,
  • In Senegal, an air collision between an airliner and a small jet (a medical evacuation flight) claimed the lives of 7 people.

Air transport: main air accidents having occurred in 2015

DateLocationType of aircraftCompanyNumber of deathsCause
4/11/ 2015Juba, South SudanAntonov AN-12BKAllied Services, South Sudan40Unknown
31/10/2015North Sinai, EgyptAirbus A321-231Metrojet, Russia224Terrorism act
16/08/2015Oksibil, IndonesiaATR 42-300Trigana Air54Unkown
30/06/2015Medan, IndonesiaLockheed C-130 HerculesIndonesian Air Force113 on board and 22 on groundProblem in one of the four propellers
29/03/2015Halifax, CanadaAirbus A320-211Air Canada0Bad weather conditions
24/03/2015Barcelonnette, FranceAirbus A320-211Germanwings150Suicide of the co-pilot
04/02/2015Taipei, TaiwanATR 72-600TransAsia Airways43Failure of the right engine
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