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Warning despite 2017 being aviation’s safest year

ICAO: “Ground handling and runway operations remain two of Europe’s more important accident risk categories.”

Of the 4.1 billion passengers travelling by air worldwide on scheduled services in 2017, there were – tragically – 50 fatalities.

But this rate of 12.2 fatalities per billion passengers represents the safest year ever for aviation, according to the 2018 edition of the ICAO Safety Report, released this week.

The number of fatal accidents also decreased, from seven in 2016 to five, which is also the lowest on record, the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization says.

Despite a spike in fatalities due to “a number of acts of unlawful interference in 2014” and events that caused significant loss of life in 2015, there has been a general trend of lower numbers of fatal accidents and fatalities over the last ten years.

Flight safety in Europe
Continued enhancements to the record-breaking safety of flight in Europe will be crucial to ensuring the sustainability of aviation growth in the region, declared ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu in her opening remarks at the 67th Special Meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation for the European Civil Aviation Conference.

Taking note of the improving trend in the safety records, she highlighted that steadily increasing flight and passenger volumes will generate significant challenges and that “air transport growth must be effectively managed by civil aviation stakeholders” to meet those challenges.

“Ground handling and runway operations remain two of Europe’s more important accident risk categories,” Dr Liu highlighted.

She added that a range of new implementation and improvement initiatives through the ICAO-led collaborative Runway Safety Programme have been produced to address this global challenge.

“In regard to accident and incident investigation, while not a major concern, it is presently the area with the lowest average compliance rating in this region and is therefore in need of some prioritization.

“We must also acknowledge the fact that technical staff qualifications and training has been identified as the number one issue impacting European states’ overall safety oversight capacities more generally.”

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