The number of hull loss accidents is decreasing
A hull loss is an event in which an aircraft is destroyed or damaged beyond economic repair. Most fatal accidents also result in a hull loss. However, in the majority of hull losses, there are no fatalities.
The number of flights on commercial jet aircraft was continuously growing prior to the effects of the pandemic. In spite of this growth, the number of accidents was decreasing each decade. The number of flights in 2021 was still 40% lower than the flights operated in 2019, and there were 5 commercial jet hull loss accidents recorded.
When compared to a period with an equivalent number of flights, it is in contrast to the 15 hull losses recorded in 2004. These figures illustrate the continuous enhancement of safety within the commercial aviation industry over recent decades. However, the number of accidents and flights will vary each year and it is the reason why accident rates are more relevant than reviewing the number of accidents per year when analyzing trends.
Yearly number of hull loss accidents 1959-2021
The rate of hull losses is steadily decreasing over time
There were far fewer flights in the 1960s, but a peak in the accident rates is shown due to the lower number of flights and the higher number of accidents recorded during this period. However, the volume of flights over recent decades is sufficient to show that the hull loss accident rate is continually decreasing.
Yearly hull loss rate per million flights
Fourth-generation aircraft have the lowest hull loss rate
The continual reduction in accident rates has been achieved by an ongoing commitment of the commercial aviation industry to enable a safe aircraft to be safely operated in a safe air transport system.
A notable part of this success is due to effective regulation, a strong safety culture, and improvements in training. Technological advances are also a crucial enabler for enhancing the level of safety. In particular, technologies introduced in aircraft systems intentionally evolved with improving safety as their aim.
A comparison of hull loss accident rates by generation of aircraft provides a clear illustration of the value of commercial aviation industry investments in technology to improve safety. Fourth-generation aircraft have the lowest hull loss rate of all. In 2021, fourth-generation aircraft had a rate of 0.15 hull losses per million flight cycles. This rate is more than two thirds lower than the previous third generation jets.
10 year moving average hull loss rate (per million flights) per aircraft generation