Aviation statistics show that flying is still very safe, despite the headline-grabbing losses of flights MH370 and MH17 this year, said Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE.
In its Global Aviation Safety Study report, the Allianz Group unit said a very significant part of insurance claims made in recent years is actually due to aircraft being unable to leave the airport in the first place.
Such insurance claims are largely due to the planes being declared unsafe to fly due to “ground equipment damage” or “mechanical failure”.
The report noted that damage caused by accidents while the plane is still at airport ramps are on the rise, costing the aviation industry about US$10 billion (RM35 billion) a year.
“Ineffective communication is at the heart of most incidents. Contact between airplanes and ground service equipment accounts for more than 80% of incidents.
“Damage from foreign objects continues to be an issue for the aviation sector, with this being the fifth highest generator of insurance claims by number.
“Bird strikes are a notable cause but incidents on runways with animals such as zebras and cows can also cause losses.”Aviation fatality odds-Allianz Global Corporate Specialty
The unit’s global head for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific Henning Haagen said: “Today, there are fewer fatalities or total hull losses compared with the past.”
When aircraft losses do occur, the report estimated that 70% of fatal accidents are related to human error with pilot fatigue as a major contributor.
“Initiatives such as crew resource management and the automated cockpit have improved safety levels, but automation can also have a downside as a number of incidents have raised the question of whether pilots are too reliant on automation in the cockpit.”
But such automation also has a downside, the report noted. “Newer aircrafts are highly exposed to cyber crime due to the prevalent use of data networks, onboard computer systems and navigation systems.
“The expected increase of drones in commercial use also poses as another risks as an anticipated future shortage of a skilled workforce including pilots.”
Looking back, the report added: “In 2012 88% of global aviation fatalities occurred in Africa (45%) and Asia (43%).
“Africa currently uses the highest percentage of second generation aircraft – over 50% of the total fleet analysed. Upgrading the airline fleet to current generation aircraft is one of the safety initiatives which have lowered the global accident rate.
“In some parts of Africa, safety and training standards are comparable to those of 50 years ago in the US or Europe.”