Aviation Safety Culture in the Asian Continent

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 Aviation safety is one of the main tenets in the industry and certainly the first one when people decide to use an airplane for a personal or professional trip. In this regard, ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, is the organization responsible for providing the guidance and strategies globally so all continents and nations are able to adhere to a standard guide in aviation safety.

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            Aviation is also known as one of the safest mode of transportation, a success achieved by a culture of investigations and lessons learned to prevent new accidents caused by similar causes. Nevertheless, are there differences of safety concept or culture among the various continents in the world, especially in Asia? ICAO nominates the region as APAC or Asia Pacific region, but the Asia representation is certainly responsible for the main results in this area.

ICAO Aviation Safety Report 2020

LINK reference : https://www.icao.int/safety/Documents/ICAO_SR_2020_final_web.pdf

The ICAO Safety Report says that in 2019 the number of fatal accidents were reduced around 50% when compared with 2018 to six fatal accidents and distributed according to the figure below:

Figure 1 – 2019 Fatal accidents per region

Figure 1 clearly shows that in the Asia Pacific region, the number of accidents are zero, and as will be seen further, this number is not a lucky occurrence but valid results from a good and strong culture of safety in this region.

ICAO also provides some figure comparing all the regions shown in the table presented below:

Table 1 – Departures, accidents and fatalities by region

The APAC, Asia Pacific region, represents about 33% of all departures worldwide, which is a very high number of commercial flights operating in that region, with a very low rate of accidents and no fatalities. The numbers from Asia in 2019 are very impressive and demonstrates that flying in airlines from this region is very safe.

AAPA Aviation Safety Challenges – Asia Pacific Perspectives

LINK reference : https://www.aapairlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/AAPA_SP_Herdman_MAG_AviationSafety_KUL_26Aug19.pdf

The AAPA, or the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, is an organization focused in the aviation industry for the Asia Pacific region, and independent from ICAO and local governments, and formed by Airlines members from this area. The latest report issued by AAPA and related to the safety aspects was published in 2019, provides a very interesting overview about the safety results and culture for this specific region. In summary, how the Asia region is focusing on safety and are collecting good results in this area, considering that the Asia market is growing year by year.

Figure 2 – Asia Pacific accidents rates x World

The Asia region is indeed a safe place for the aviation industry and accident levels are mostly slightly better than the world average figures. The chart shows that something happened between 2012 and 2015 however, after that, the Asia figures are demonstrating a positive trend in reducing accidents and increasing the safety.

On the other hand, the ICAO report is a good indicator that the Asia region is going in the right direction resulting in no fatalities accidents in 2019, an impressive figure achieved by the commitment of the nations and the aviation industry for a better and safer environment.

ICAO Annual Safety Report 2020 – Asia Pacific Region

LINK reference : https://www.icao.int/APAC/RASG/APAC%20Safety%20Report/1908.2991%20ICAO%20Annual%20report_Final.pdf

The ICAO also published safety figures from the Asia Pacific region, as well as reports for the other continents. These reports aim to identify improvements in the different locations and consequently improve the aviation safety locally and globally.

The ICAO also published safety figures from the Asia Pacific region, as well as reports for the other continents. These reports aim to identify improvements in the different locations and consequently improve the aviation safety locally and globally.

The following nations are member of ICAO APAC:

Table 2 – ICAO Member States in Asia Pacific region

The following chart, a bit different from the AAPA previously reported, also demonstrates a good trend from Asian region with regards to the accident rate:

Figure 3 – ICAO figures – Global accident rate x APAC accident rate

It is possible to confirm that the Asian region has a lower level of accident rate in the last decade, which proves its commitment to the safety and procedures.

The ICAO report also presents the rate of hull loss and substantial damage to the aircraft:

Figure 4 – IATA Hull Loss Rate & Damage Rate Figures

The Asian region is still below global average when comparing the hull loss rate, but slightly above the global average when comparing the damage rate, indicating that actions in safety are well welcome for the continuous improvement.

ICAO still provides the accident rate by sub-regional locations as follow:

Figure 5 – Accident rate by sub-regions in Asia Pacific area

Interesting to note that North Asia region is very below the global accident rate in the last decade, while the Southeast Asia and South Asia regions were above the global accident rate but improving this level and reducing the accident rate since 2017.

The Safety as per ICAO         

The ICAO Annex 19, with the guidance to implement the SMS, Safety Management System, is certainly the base to construct a good safety culture, and clearly, after the introduction of the SMS by ICAO and the implementation of this new safety methodology by the nations, the safety culture and lower accidents rates are being achieved since then.

The figure below shows how ICAO determines the nations complying with the implementation of the safety oversight system, a way to monitor the safety aspects and actions being taken by each country in contributing to a safer aviation industry.

Figure 6 – Safety Oversight System Implementation Level

It can certainly be said that Asia, and some other continents, achieved so far a good level of compliance with the ICAO standards resulting in a better safety culture worldwide. This is certainly a good approach in increasing the aviation safety and not a very simple task due to the complexity of the aviation industry. The next chart provides the overall effective implementation for the safety audit program of the Asia Pacific nations:

Figure 7 – Safety Audit Effective Implementation by Asia Pacific countries

The chart above is a good example about the importance of safety in most of the Asia countries and its clear contribution for the good level of safety in Asia region. Nevertheless, the chart also provides an indication that the improvements are required to achieve the 1005 goal of implementation.

The aviation industry in Asia is as safe as in many other locations in world and in some placeseven better. The ICAO standards when properly followed by the nations contribute very positively for
the safety improvements and accident rate reductions. Moreover, remembering that aviation safety is
a living program and that it demands constant evaluations and actions for its continuous improvement
process.

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