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General aviation: Continuing safety concern

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The ATSB has released its latest statistical report – Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2002 to 2011 – providing the most up-to-date portrait of aviation safety in Australia. There were 130 accidents, 121 serious incidents, and 6,823 incidents in 2011 involving VH-registered aircraft. General aviation operations continue to have an accident rate higher than commercial air transport operations—about four times higher for accidents, and nine times higher for fatal accidents in 2011. Most commercial air transport accidents and serious incidents were related to reduced aircraft separation, and engine issues. Charter operations accounted for most of the accidents, including two fatal accidents in 2011 within air transport. Air transport incidents were more likely to involve birdstrikes or a failure to comply with air traffic control instructions or published information. For general aviation aircraft, accidents and serious incidents often involved terrain collisions, aircraft separation issues, or aircraft control problems. General aviation incidents commonly involved airspace incursions, failure to comply with air traffic control, and wildlife strikes. In most operation types, helicopters had a higher rate of accidents and fatal accidents than aeroplanes, except for in charter operations. Even though the fatal accident rate is generally higher, helicopter accidents are generally associated with fewer fatalities than fixed-wing aircraft. The figures and insights from the report are helping the ATSB concentrate its efforts on transport safety priorities. The report also reveals that many of the accident types are avoidable (especially for general aviation) and can be prevented through good flight management and preparation.



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