In the March issue, I report on the need to embrace failure in the work environment to improve processes and achieve ultimate success. I cite a new book by Alina Tugend. In Better by Mistake, Tugend uses research studies to show that mistakes often lead to better results, as evidenced by airline errors in the 1970s and 1980s. When crews were empowered to confer with the captain, accident rates fell dramatically. It seems, most air accidents occur due to crew error, not faulty equipment.
Now, the International Air Transport Association says that safety performance for Western-built jet aircraft in 2010 was the lowest in aviation history. The global accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jet aircraft) was 0.61. That is equal to one accident for every 1.6 million flights and marks a significant improvement from the 0.71 rate recorded in 2009 (one accident for 1.4 million flights). Compared to 10 years ago, the accident rate has been cut 42 percent.
A hull loss is an accident in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired. In absolute numbers, 2010 saw the following results:
• 2.4 billion people flew safely on 36.8 million flights (28.4 million jet, 8.4 million turboprop)
• 17 hull loss accidents involving western-built jet aircraft compared to 19 in 2009
• 94 accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern and Western built) compared to 90 in 2009
• 23 fatal accidents (all aircraft types) compared to 18 in 2009
• 786 fatalities compared to 685 in 2009
But as I read the numbers, it seems like the only stat that has improved is hull losses by two. Accidents are up, as are fatal accidents and fatalities. That hardly seems like an improvement...though perhaps the numbers are based on more overall flights.
For the full report, visit the IATA website.
(Image courtesy Chinavasion.com.)