Allianz and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University report: Flying has never been safer

Despite record numbers of over 4 billion passengers globally, statistics show that flying has never been safer. The global airline industry has experienced some of its safest years ever in terms of fatal accidents in recent times, according to the new “Aviation Risk 2020: Safety And The State Of The Nation” report published by the corporate and aviation insurance specialist Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) in association with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace.

Three of the past four years have been the safest ever. For example, in 2017, for the first time in at least 60 years of aviation there were no fatalities on a passenger jet flight, making it the safest year ever. Even 2018, which saw a total of 15 fatal airliner accidents with 556 victims, ranks as the third safest year ever, according to statistics from the Aviation Safety Network 1, with 2015 ranked second. Overall, the report notes that the lifetime chances of a person dying in a commercial aviation accident are extremely unlikely compared with other forms of transport such as by car or bicycle, as well as other more unexpected scenarios such as accidental gun discharge or dog attack.

1 Aviation Safety Network releases 2018 airliner accident statistics, January 2019

A broad range of safety improvements

“The continuous improvement in aviation safety can be attributed to several factors such as design improvements, new technologies, more effective pilot training as well as significant improvements in manufacturing processes, aircraft operations and regulation,” explains Tom Fadden, Global Head of Aviation, AGCS.

Aerodynamic and airframe improvements, fly-by-wire aircraft and more effective safety inspections have had a dramatic impact on accident rates over the past decades. At the same time engine manufacturers have almost eliminated the chance of engine failure. Radio and avionics are extremely precise today and improved air traffic control technology and better collision systems have also had a positive impact.

“Pilots now have much more live information at their fingertips while current navigation systems have the capability to determine an aircraft’s position to the thousandths of a mile,” says E. David Williams, Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Occupational Safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Improvements in science have also allowed the aviation industry to better understand how human factors can affect safety. Pilot fatigue, training, crew resource management and other factors have become increasingly important issues.”

More turbulence – and claims – on the way

Passengers can feel safer than ever on board an airplane, but will have to be prepared for more incidences of turbulence in future, according to the report. In July 2019, almost 40 people were injured on an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Sidney that was hit by severe turbulence and had to make an emergency landing – one of many incidents that occur on flights around the world every day. Within the coming decades turbulence is expected to increase due to climate change and the warming planet – in particular on flights between Europe and North America.

Although the aviation industry’s safety record has improved significantly in recent decades particularly with regard to the number of fatal accidents, it continues to see a high volume and growing magnitude of claims. AGCS has analyzed more than 50,000 aviation insurance industry claims from 2013 to 2018 worth more than 14.8 billion euros ($16.3 billion). Collision/crash incidents account for over half the value of all claims – and these include not only tragic crashes but also damage from foreign objects or ground collision incidents at crowded airports. There are many other causes of loss, such as slips and falls of passengers, machinery breakdown and engine failure, fleet groundings and mis-fueling accidents, all of which are resulting in increasingly expensive losses for aviation manufacturers, airlines and their insurers alike. 

allianz aviation risk claims trends 2020

Costly repairs – rental engine was more than the entire aircraft

The increasing sophistication of new generation aircraft – often built using light composite materials such as carbon fiber layers to consume less fuel and fitted with sophisticated technology –is driving up the cost of aircraft repairs and groundings. “We recently handled a claim where a rental engine was required while an aircraft’s engine was repaired. The value of the rental engine was more than the entire aircraft, including its original engine,” says David Watkins, Regional Head of General Aviation, North America at AGCS.
allianz aviation risk claims trends 2020

Allianz Commercial is the center of expertise and global line of Allianz Group for insuring mid-sized businesses, large enterprises and specialist risks. Among our customers are the world’s largest consumer brands, financial institutions and industry players, the global aviation and shipping industry as well as family-owned and medium enterprises which are the backbone of the economy. We also cover unique risks such as offshore wind parks, infrastructure projects or Hollywood film productions. Powered by the employees, financial strength, and network of the world’s #1 insurance brand, we work together to help our customers prepare for what’s ahead: They trust on us for providing a wide range of traditional and alternative risk transfer solutions, outstanding risk consulting and Multinational services as well as seamless claims handling. Allianz Commercial brings together the large corporate insurance business of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) and the commercial insurance business of national Allianz Property & Casualty entities serving mid-sized companies. We are present in over 200 countries and territories either though our own teams or the Allianz Group network and partners. In 2022, the integrated business of Allianz Commercial generated more than €19 billion gross premium globally.

These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.

About Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University teaches the science, practice, and business of the world of aviation and aerospace. Since its foundation in 1925, 22 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, the university and its graduates have built an enviable record of achievement in every aspect of aviation and aerospace. The curriculum at Embry-Riddle covers the operation, engineering, research, manufacturing, marketing, and management of modern aircraft and the systems that support them. The university engages in extensive research and consulting that address the unique needs of aviation, aerospace, and related industries.

For more information please visit: http://www.erau.edu

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with around 125 million* private and corporate customers in nearly 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 746 billion euros** on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage about 1.8 trillion euros** of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are among the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2023, over 157,000 employees achieved total business volume of 161.7 billion euros and an operating profit of 14.7 billion euros for the group.
* Including non-consolidated entities with Allianz customers.
** As of March 31, 2024.

Press contacts

Heidi Polke
Allianz SE
Lesiba Sethoga
Allianz Commercial (Johannesburg)
Florence Claret
Allianz Commercial (Paris)
Wendy Koh
Allianz Commercial (Singapore)
Daniel Aschoff
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (Munich)
Sabrina Glavan
Allianz Commercial (New York)
Camila Corsini
Allianz Commercial (Sao Paolo)
Greg Dobie
Allianz Commercial (London)
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:

Further information

Atlantic hurricanes 2024: businesses should brace for an active season

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season officially started on June 1 and lasts until November 30, with many forecasters predicting a particularly active season. Here, Allianz Commercial looks at what could be on the horizon for 2024 and reviews the notable storm events from last year, combining insights from leading forecasting institutes with the expertise of its in-house catastrophe risk team.

Allianz Global Insurance Report: Navigating growth and challenges in a rapidly changing world

Amid market shifts, technological advancements, and evolving consumer needs, the insurance industry saw its fastest growth since 2006. Yet, this impressive growth is also a story of transformation, influenced by high inflation and the necessity to adapt swiftly to a changing world. Allianz Research’s new report explores how the insurance industry performed in 2023 and what the future holds.

Safety and Shipping Review 2024

Allianz Commercial’s annual Safety and Shipping Review identifies loss trends and highlights a number of risk challenges for the maritime sector. Given as much as 90% of International trade is transported across oceans, maritime safety is critical, and the shipping industry has made significant improvements in recent years.