Wings Magazine

Accident rate virtually unchanged in 10 years: ICAO

Dec. 9, 2011, Montreal - Although aviation has achieved a remarkable safety record, with fewer than four accidents per million departures worldwide, the global accident rate has remained essentially unchanged over the past 10 years, according to a report released on December 7, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) entitled the “State of Global Aviation Safety – 2011.”

December 9, 2011
By Carey Fredericks

Runway related incidents consistently represent the largest accident grouping. “Improvements in runway safety are therefore essential if we are to achieve our objective to continually reduce the global accident rate, as well as related fatalities, despite projected growth in air traffic for the foreseeable future,” the report states.

As a result, the international aviation community has called upon ICAO to demonstrate leadership in the effort to reduce the number of runway-related accidents and incidents. Through its Runway Safety Programme, ICAO aims to coordinate a global effort to improve runway safety. In addition, there is an urgent need to report runway surface conditions in a more standardized manner so that flight crews can use this information to determine safe and effective performance characteristics for their aircraft during take-off and landing Foreign Object Damage (FOD) on runways causes U.S. $920 million in annual direct costs to airlines, while sector-wide FOD figures are estimated at U.S. $12 billion globally, according to the report. FOD is also potentially a serious safety risk to aircraft and airport operations, as was exemplified on July 25, 2000, when 100 passengers and nine crew members on the Concorde and four people on the ground were killed due to FOD in France.

ICAO has initiated a work program to develop harmonized provisions governing the use of automated FOD detection systems. Objectives for the program include a globally agreed definition and taxonomy for FOD, as well as its effective integration into airport safety management systems.

And based on an analysis of accident data between 2005 and 2010, ICAO has identified three high-risk accident occurrence categories:


• Runway safety related events

• Loss of control in-flight

• Controlled flight into terrain

These three categories cover 66 per cent of the total number of accidents, 73 per cent of fatal accidents and 66 per cent of number of fatalities.

The complete report can be found online at: