Deliberate acts cause more airline deaths than crashes: report

WASHINGTON -- There were more airline deaths worldwide due to deliberate acts in 2015 than from accidental air crashes, for the second year in a row, according to an industry tally.

See Full Article

There were only eight accidental airline crashes last year, accounting for 161 passenger and crew deaths - the fewest crashes and deaths since at least 1946. The tally by Flightglobal, an aviation news and industry data company, excludes a German airliner that was deliberately flown into a mountainside in the French Alps last March, and a Russian airliner packed with tourists that exploded over Egypt in October. The toll for those two incidents was 374 killed.

In 2014, the toll from a Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared and another that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 was 537 deaths compared to 436 accident deaths that year.

"In recent years, airline safety has improved very considerably to the point where, typically, there are now very few fatal accidents and fatalities in a year," said Paul Hayes, Flightglobal's director of air safety and insurance. "However, flight security remains a concern."

Although some years are better than others, the fatal accident rate has been improving for many years. The global fatal accident rate for all types of airline operations in 2015 was one per 5 million flights, the best year ever. The previous best year was 2014, with a fatal accident rate of 1 per 2.5 million flights. Airline operations are now about four or five times safer than they were 20 years ago.

Those tallies are for all types of airline flights, including cargo, positioning, training, and maintenance flights. There were just 98 paying passengers killed last year in accidental crashes compared to 790 in 2007. A far cry from 1970s, when the annual average of passengers killed in accidental crashes was 1,289.

A big reason for the improving record is better engineering: Today's airliners and aircraft engines are far safer than earlier generations of planes. They are more highly automated, which has reduced many common pilot errors. They have better satellite-based navigation systems. They are made of stronger, lighter weight, less corrosive materials. And they're equipped with safety systems introduced in recent decades, and repeatedly improved over time, that have nearly eliminated mid-air collisions between airliners and what the industry calls "controlled flight into terrain" - pilots who lose situational awareness and fly their planes into a mountainside or into the ground.

The aircraft improvements are due primarily to lessons learned from crash investigations that are taken into account when new planes are designed, said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member. As older planes are replaced with newer planes, aviation becomes safer, he said.

"We're now up to about the 7th generation of jet airplanes," he said. "We know the first generation - DC-8s, 707s - had a higher accident rate than the second or the third or the fourth generations, and it just moves on up."

But more needs to be done to weed out disturbed pilots and guard against acts of terrorism, experts said.

The Germanwings case is especially perplexing, said John Cox, a former airline pilot and aviation safety consultant. Pilot Andreas Lubitz managed to conceal his troubles even though airlines are continually evaluating pilots for signs of trouble. Pilots evaluate each other as well.

It's not known what caused Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to disappear while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but many aviation safety experts theorize that it was mostly likely the result of deliberate acts, probably by one of the two pilots.

"Pilots from day one are so ingrained with protecting the passengers, with learning skills to deal with unanticipated events ... and evaluated on how well you deal with stress," Cox said. "Those who don't do well with it don't survive as professional pilots."

The Islamic State has claimed credit for a bomb suspected of blowing apart a MetroJet A320 over Egypt. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile fired from rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine, according to Dutch crash investigators.

Terrorists "have been probing nonstop since 9/11 and every once in a while they find a way to get through," Goglia said.

The new frontier in airline safety is a managerial philosophy known as SMS, or safety management systems, he said. Airlines are systematically gathering data on safety trends, and encouraging pilots, dispatchers, mechanics and others to report problems by promising there will be no retaliation for mistakes. The information is then shared across the industry in an effort to spot problems before they lead to an accident.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Competition Bureau of Canada gives $4.4B Couche-Tard deal green light

    Economic CTV News
    LAVAL, Que. -- The Competition Bureau of Canada is giving the green light to Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX.ATD.B) to purchase its American fuel and convenience store rival CST Brands Inc., provided the company sell some of CST's Canadian assets to Parkland. Source
  • Ivanka Trump shoes factory has long hours, low pay and abuse

    Economic CTV News
    GANZHOU, China -- A worker with blood dripping from his head marked a low point in the tense, grinding life at a southeastern China factory used by Ivanka Trump and other fashion brands. An angry manager had hit him with the sharp end of a high-heeled shoe. Source
  • Facebook hits 2 billion users, doubling in size since 2012

    Economic CBC News
    Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday that 2 billion people are regularly using its flagship service, marching past another milestone in its growth from a college curiosity in the United States to the world's largest social media network. Source
  • Royal Bank to repay investors $21.8M for mistakenly charged investment fees

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) has agreed to a deal with Ontario's securities watchdog to repay $21.8 million to clients who were mistakenly charged some investment fees. The Ontario Securities Commission approved Tuesday the no-contest settlement agreement with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Source
  • Royal Bank to pay back $22M in investment fees it overcharged

    Economic CBC News
    The Ontario Securities Commission says the settlement comes after a compliance review in 2015 found the bank had overcharged some of its customers 'excess fees,' for their investments. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) The Royal Bank of Canada will pay almost $22 million in compensation to clients who were charged excess fees on some mutual funds and investments products. Source
  • Ransomware is infecting computers all across Europe in another major attack

    Economic CBC News
    A major ransomware attack on Tuesday hit computers at Russia's biggest oil company, the country's banks, Ukraine's international airport as well as global shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group IB said hackers had exploited code developed by the U.S. Source
  • World's first ATM turns to gold on 50th birthday

    Economic CBC News
    Five decades since it heralded a transformation in the way people obtained and used cash, the world's first ATM was turned into gold for celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary. The brainchild of Scottish inventor John Shepherd-Barron, the first ATM (automated teller machine) was opened on June 27, 1967 at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, north London, the first of six cash dispensers commissioned by the bank. Source
  • Bring the brew to you: Beer Store launches home delivery in Ottawa, Scarborough

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Beer Store is now offering home delivery in two Ontario communities. Customers in Ottawa and the Toronto suburb of Scarborough can now place an order online and have their purchases delivered within two hours. Source
  • Uber makes it easier to arrange trips for other riders

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Uber's ride-hailing app is making it easier for its users to set up trips for seniors and others who may not know their way around a smartphone but still need help getting around town. Source
  • No security risks in Chinese takeover of Canadian satellite firm: Trudeau

    Economic CBC News
    ?Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making his strongest defence yet of his government's decision to allow a Chinese telecom giant to take over a Canadian satellite technology company. Trudeau says an initial government review of the takeover, required under federal law, unearthed no significant national security risk and didn't require any further reviews, allowing the deal to be allowed to proceed. Source