The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has lauded African airlines for working towards improved safety performance in their operations in 2018.

The commendation came when IATA released 2018 safety performance data of the commercial airline industry on Thursday, February 21.

Director General, IATA, Mr Alexandre de Juniac, said that Africa was the only region to witness decline in the all-accident rate compared to 2017.

He said: “For a third consecutive year, airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa experienced zero jet hull losses and zero fatalities in jet operations.

“The all accident rate was 2.71 per cent, a significant improvement over the rate of 6.80 per cent for the previous five years.

“Africa was the only region to see a decline in the all-accident rate compared to 2017. However, the region experienced two fatal turboprop accidents, neither of which involved a scheduled passenger flight.

“We continue to progress in the region toward world-class levels of safety.”

The IATA DG observed that despite the improvement, African airlines still needed to block some loopholes in the safety performance of the continent’s turboprop fleet.

“Global standards such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) are making a difference.

“Counting all accidents, the performance of African airlines on the IOSA registry was more than twice as good as non-IOSA airlines in the region.

“In parallel, African governments must accelerate the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS).

“As of year-end 2017, only 26 African countries had at least 60 per cent SARPS implementation. They also should incorporate IOSA into their safety oversight systems,” de Juniac said.

On the global scale, he said there was increase in accidents in 2018 compared to 2017.

The IATA boss said: “The all accident rate was 1.35 per cent which was the equivalent of one accident for every 740,000 flights.

“This was an improvement over the all accident rate of 1.79 for the previous 5-year period (2013-2017), but a decline compared to 2017’s record performance of 1.11.”

According to him, there were 11 fatal accidents with 523 fatalities among passengers and crew in 2018 compared to the six fatal accidents and 19 fatalities recorded in 2017.

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He said: “Last year some 4.3 billion passengers flew safely on 46.1 million flights. 2018 was not the extraordinary year that 2017 was.

“However, flying is safe, and the data tell us that it is getting safer. For example, if safety in 2018 had remained at the same level as 2013, there would have been 109 accidents instead of 62.

“Also, there would have been 18 fatal accidents, instead of the 11 that actually occurred.

“Flying continues to be the safest form of long distance travel the world has ever known. Based on the data, on average, a passenger could take a flight everyday for 241 years before experiencing an accident with one fatality on board.

“We remain committed to the goal of having every flight take-off and landing safely.’’

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