Aviation safety in Africa continued to improve over the past five years, according to Gilberto López Meyer, senior vice president, safety and flight operations (SFO) at the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
He emphasised in a report that commercial air travel is the safest form of long distance transportation that has ever existed.
Iata research has found that globally the overall trend in aviation safety continues to improve. A survey of airline safety over the past five and a half also indicated that Iata members had a lower accident rate than non-Iata members as well as an accident rate lower than the industry average.
“We constantly strive to ensure standards of safety are maintained and improved,” said López Meyer.
Furthermore, airlines registered as part of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) have outperformed non-IOSA airlines globally over the period from 2012 to 2017. The IOSA audit reviews many areas of operator systems to ensure the highest standards are met. As of November 21 the IOSA registry contained 427 airlines of which 281 are Iata members.
“While no operational standard will never have an event, the data show that operators who maintain IOSA standards have better a safety performance over time,” said López Meyer.
In Africa, for example, the accident rate is 1.18 for IOSA registered carriers compared to a rate of 9.79 for non-IOSA carriers.
One of Iata’s goals is to make more effective use of data to identify risks to safety and develop strategies to mitigate them. In this regard Iata is collaborating with a number of organisations all over the world.
“Safety is everyone’s business and we look forward to increasing this collaboration,” said López Meyer.
Iata also has meteorological projects (MET) which aim to mitigate the impact of turbulence and to improve global and regional weather forecasts.
Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and crew globally, according to López Meyer.
About 96% of respondents to an Iata turbulence study said they require real-time objective data about the location and severity of turbulence.
Iata is, therefore, developing a framework for a turbulence sharing platform in collaboration with a number of airlines and industry stakeholders. It will likely be launched in 2019.
Iata is also working closely with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to improve global weather forecasts. The WMO already collects real-time wind and temperature data from 40 airlines globally. According to López Meyer, after satellite-based observations this is the most important source of data for forecasting weather globally.
There is, however, a limited number of participating airlines, so many areas of the globe do not have coverage.
The overall benefit of the Iata MET project is expected to improve safety by reducing turbulence related injuries, reduce fuel burn, decrease carbon emissions and reduce cost to airlines through more accurate flight planning.
López Meyer said Iata also has safety audit programmes. The aim of the SFO programmes is to digitise internal audit programme processes; to have data management and advanced analytics; and to create a collaboration platform for industry stakeholders.