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ATSB report sheds light on safety occurrences

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 31, 2013

Cessna 210 in a collision with terrain accident during 2012 in the Northern Territory. (ATSB)
Cessna 210 in a collision with terrain accident during 2012 in the Northern Territory. (ATSB)

A report published by the ATSB of safety occurences during the last 10 years shows there were 107 accidents, 195 serious incidents, and more than 7,300 incidents reported to the ATSB involving VH–registered aircraft. There were a further 570 occurrences involving foreign-registered aircraft operating within Australia or its airspace.

During 2012 the most common safety incidents reported were animal strikes, non-compliance with publish information or air traffic control instructions, and aircraft system and airframe issues. Most accidents and serious incidents related to reduced aircraft separation and engine malfunction.

The report showed general aviation aircraft, such as aircraft conducting flying training, aerial work, or private/pleasure flying, were involved in 38 per cent of occurrences reported to the ATSB in 2012. Airspace incursions, compliance with air traffic control, and birdstrikes were the most common incidents reported, with most accidents and serious incidents involving terrain collisions, engine failures, and a loss of aircraft control.

Private/business operations had the highest number of fatal accidents in 2012 out of any year in the last 10 years, with 15 fatal accidents resulting in 22 fatalities. In contrast, commercial aerial work operations recorded the lowest number of accidents in the past 10 years.

Over the past 10 years, aerial agriculture had the most accidents and fatal accidents per hour flown, followed by private/business operations. Aerial survey and aerial mustering had the next highest accident and fatal accident rates


In most operation types, helicopters had a higher rate of accidents and fatal accidents than fixed-wing aircraft.

A new addition to the ATSB’s aviation statistics is data on recreational (non–VH) aircraft safety. In 2012, the majority of the 274 occurrences reported were controlled airspace incursions, engine malfunctions, aircraft control problems, and runway events such as veer-offs.

In addition to the analysis of safety occurrences, the ATSB report also shows interesting trends in departure rates by aircraft category over the 10 years.

Departure rates (thousands) in 2003 and then 2012 were:

High capacity VH-reg           327 – 561
Low capacity VH-reg             204 – 134
Charter VH-reg (Est.)            616 – 650
Foreign registered                   35 – 54
General aviation                      2,124 – 1,861

The full report can be found at here.

Excerpt from ATSB report showing

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