Fewer Than Average Accidents in 2006

The Aviation Safety Network put out their annual report (PDF) on aviation accidents in 2006, and the numbers were thankfully lower than average. This is always an interesting study, so let’s dig right in.

There were 27 fatal airliner accidents (11 of which were scheduled passenger flights) causing 888 fatalities onboard with an additional 4 fatalities on the ground. That may not sound very promising, but it’s lower than the 10 year average of 1005 fatalities on 36.3 accidents. In fact, all regions of the world have shown a decreasing accident rate with the exception of Africa. Even though the region accounts for 3% of all flights worldwide, it was responsible for 18.5% of all accidents last year. And the Congo alone had 3 accidents.

The majority of these accidents were smaller aircraft, like the Swearingen Metro II prop that crashed near Paris, Tennessee killing one person. There were seven accidents with more than 40 fatalities as follows:

  • On May 3, an Armavia A320 crashed into the sea after aborting an approach to Sochi (Russia) in bad weather killing 113 people
  • On July 9, an S7 Airlines A310 skidded off the runway in bad weather at Irktusk and caught on fire killing 125
  • On July 10, a Pakistan International Airlines F27 crashed on takeoff from Multan (Pakistan) due to engine problems killing 45
  • On August 22, a Tupolev 154 of Pulkovo was flying to St Petersburg when it flew through a massive thunderstorm which caused the aircraft to stall and then crash killing 170
  • On August 27, a Comair CRJ took off on the wrong, shorter runway in Lexington (Kentucky) killing 49
  • On September 29, a Gol 737-800 collided with a private jet in midair killing 154
  • On October 29, an ADC Airlines 737-200 crashed on takeoff from Abuja in a thunderstorm killing 97

As you would expect, aviation continues to get safer every year. Remember, the lower number of accidents comes on top of a much higher number of flights, so the rate of accidents over total departures is decreasing even faster.

In the US, there were 6 accidents. That’s higher than we’ve seen in some time, but only one was on a scheduled passenger flight. In total, there were 62 fatalities and 49 of those came on that one scheduled passenger flight – the Comair CRJ which crashed in Lexington.

That crash in Lexington highlighted once again the potential dangers of airport navigation. Work had just been completed at the airport and the pilots mistakenly took off from the wrong runway. I would expect ground navigation to be a focus in the coming years to help improve safety.

Yet again, another good year for safety, but there are always improvements to be made. Unfortunately 2007 is off to a poor start with the Adam Air 737 going missing in Indonesia yesterday, but let’s hope that’s the last accident of the year.

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