The number of fatalities caused by airline accidents totaled 268 people in 2016, nearly double those killed in 2015, but the industry’s five-year safety trend shows the rate of accidents is significantly improved.

IATA’s 2016 Airline Safety Performance report, published March 10,  showed the previous five-year period (2011-2015) had an average of 13.4 fatal accidents and 371 people killed per year, an improvement on 2015’s report, which posted a  previous five-year average of 17.6 fatal accidents and 504 killed per year.

Ten fatal accidents were recorded in 2016, IATA reported, resulting in 268 killed. In 2015, four fatal accidents were recorded, resulting in 136 deaths. Both years were down considerably from 2014, when 12 fatal accidents occurred and 641 people were killed.

Of the 10 fatal accidents in 2016, five were jet hull losses and five were turboprop hull losses.

The global jet accident rate in 2016 was 0.39 hull losses per million flights—the equivalent of one major accident for every 2.56 million flights—up from 0.32 in 2015. “This was not as good as the rate … achieved in 2015,” IATA said, “and [exceeded] the five-year rate (2011-2015) of 0.36.” Thirteen jet hull losses were recorded for 2016, up from 10 recorded in 2015.

The Middle East and North Africa had the highest regional jet hull loss rate in 2016, with 2.49 jet hull losses per million flights, compared to zero for the region the year before.  The region’s performance was impacted by the May 19, 2016 incident involving EgyptAir flight MS804, an Airbus A320 that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 66 people on board.

The global turboprop accident rate in 2016 was 1.15 hull losses per every one million turboprop flights, down slightly from 1.18 in 2015; the rate for the previous five-years (2011-2015) was 2.84 turboprop hull losses per one million flights. Eight turboprop hull losses occurred in 2016, the same number as in 2015.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had the highest regional turboprop hull loss rate in 2016, with 10.03 hull losses per million flights, a sharp contrast to zero losses reported in the CIS in 2015.

For all jet and turboprop hull loss accidents combined—fatal and non-fatal—IATA calculated 1.61 accidents per million flights in 2016, down 10.1% from 1.79 accidents per million flights in 2015. The previous five-year period (2011-2015) had a rate of 2.25 accidents per million flights.

“Last year some 3.8 billion travelers flew safely on 40.4 million flights. The number of total accidents, fatal accidents and fatalities all declined versus the five-year average, showing aviation continues to become safer,” IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. “We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long distance travel.”

De Juniac noted that Sub-Saharan Africa had its best performance within the last decade, with zero passenger fatalities and zero jet hull losses in 2016. The region had one non-fatal turboprop hull loss incident during the year.

“Sub-Saharan airlines delivered a very strong performance in 2016,” de Juniac said. “The lesson in Africa’s improvement is that global standards like the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) make a difference … regional governments also need to accelerate the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS). As of year-end 2016, only 22 African countries had at least 60% SARPS implementation.”

Mark Nensel mark.nensel@penton.com