The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) last week published its annual aviation accident analysis report, covering the period 2008 to 2017.
The report, which uses data from the ATSB's own accident and incident database and statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), found that the number of fatalities in aviation for 2017 was almost double that of 2016.
"In 2017, nearly 200 aircraft were involved in accidents in Australia, with 203 involved in a serious incident (an incident with a high probability of an accident)," the report states. "There were 40 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2017, which was a significant increase from the 21 fatalities in 2016.
"There were no fatalities in either high or low capacity regular public transport (RPT) operations, which has been the case since 1975 and 2010 respectively."
Of the 40 fatalities, two accidents accounted for 11 deaths: the King Air crash at Essendon and the De Havilland Otter crash at Jerusalem Bay in NSW, which caused a spike in fatality rates for the commercial transport sector over the ten years of the study.
"Almost half of all fatalities that occurred in commercial air transport operations during the study period occurred in 2017. During 2017, there were 14 fatalities from 21 accidents in commercial air transport operations, 21 fatalities from 93 accidents in general aviation operations, and five fatalities from 53 accidents in recreational aviation operations.
Although 2017 was the worst year for fatalities in the study, accidents in the charter sector have decreased since 2008.
Private, sport and business aviation recorded an accident rate of 193.7 per million hours flown over the 2008-17 period, compared with approximately 300 for recreational aviation. The ATSB attributed that to high risk levels than air transport.
"The accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect their higher-risk operational activity when compared to commercial air transport operations," the ATSB advised. "They also reflect the significant growth in recreational aviation activity over the last ten years and this sector’s increased reporting culture.
"General aviation accounts for one-third of the total hours flown by Australian-registered aircraft and over half of all aircraft movements across Australia.The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are nine times more likely to have an accident than commercial air transport operations, with recreational operations around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation operations.
"The fatal accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are around fifteen times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations, and recreational operations are almost 30 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations."
The entire report is on the ATSB website.