The paper illustrates the continual improvements in aviation safety and analyses the generic causes of fatal accidents. It argues that further improvements are needed in the safety of commuter aeroplanes, small twin-engined aeroplanes and helicopters and discusses areas where it is proposed that steps can be taken. proposed that steps can be taken. The development and role of the European Joint Aviation Authorities are described together with the influence of the European Community. The situation in Europe post-1992 is discussed, outlining the advantages to industry, progress towards a "level playing field" and some of the remaining problems to be resolved. problems to be resolved
Flying in the 1990s is widely acknowledged as being one of the safest means of transport. The risk of a passenger losing his life whilst travelling with an airline is less than 0.10 per million for each 100 nautical miles (184 km) compared with around 1.0 for a car driver and 0.4 for a driver of a heavy goods vehicle; trains and buses, however, are in the region of 0.03 to 0.11.
Nevertheless, the aviation industry constantly seeks to improve safety standards and the continued record of achievement is noteworthy, as illustrated by the UK experience (see Figure 1). Looking at the question more globally, ICAO statistics show that the airliner hull losses per million departures have fallen from 45, at the beginning per million departures have fallen from 45, at the beginning of the jet age in the late 1950s, to 1.4 in 1990.
Typical figures, world-wide, for fatal accidents per million flying hours show marked differences between categories of aircraft (see Table 1). This indicates a need to improve the accident record for some groups of smaller aircraft to be more similar to that for large airliners. Though many years ago it was perceived by many that charter or non-scheduled operations were less safe than scheduled, this is no longer true, at least in the major aviation countries. In the United States, charter operations in large aeroplanes are conducted under the "supplemental" rules of FAR Part 121, whereas "flag" or "domestic" operations are under the main rules. It is considered, however, that both parts of the rules are aimed at achieving the same high standards. In the UK, the same operating rules are applied to both scheduled and charter operations by both helicopter and aeroplane, and this is generally true in Europe.
Corporate aviation is, however, less subject to regulation in some countries particularly in respect of operational matters. However, the UK experience is that corporate operators often voluntarily operate to the highest standards of the public transport industry and in certain cases have the resources to pitch their targets even higher. Consequently it is no surprise that small jets, which are mostly used in corporate operations, achieve the same safety level as commuter aircraft mostly used in public transport. However, both are below the level that large jets are now able to achieve in public transport, which is dominated by scheduled operations.
Most helicopter public transport operations are charter rather than scheduled but this does not have any bearing on the noticeably lower safety level of large helicopters compared with, say, commuter aeroplanes.