How can the IATA claim that the year 2015 saw no accidental hull losses, if we had the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident? Even if this one is not considered "an accident" then there are a few others (for instance Metrojet Flight 9268) that can be clearly taken as "accidental hull losses".

How should I understand "accidental hull loss" exactly, or what is it that I am missing?

EDIT: While I agree, that I may be missing some certain points and the general definition given in IATA article and while I agree with all answers and comments given here, I think that on contrary Carson Air Flight 66 fits pretty perfectly into "accidental hull loss" definition. It is from 2015 and it is a bit interesting, why IATA "forgot" about it in their report?

  • $\begingroup$ Metrojet 9268 is explicitly listed in the link as being deliberate. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Jun 7, 2016 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting question and doesn't deserve negative votes. The terminology used in the industry is not always clear, and certainly not used accurately or consistently in reports, especially in the general media. The official terminology and definitions are not all perfectly obvious to me either. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2016 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ @DanieleProcida I didn't downvote and I agree that official terminology can be confusing. However, the ordinary English meaning of the word "accident" is something that is non-deliberate, and the asker seems to be aware of this in their suggestion that Germanwings 9525 might not be counted as accidental. It does seem pretty clear that neither a pilot deliberately flying a plane into the ground nor a terrorist blowing up a plane is an accident. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2016 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @trejder - add that into the original question as an example - it will get more attention there than here in the comments. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jun 8, 2016 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ Re. Carson Air, the IATA infographic says there were zero hull losses "involving passenger fatalities" and the Carson Air flight was cargo only. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jun 8, 2016 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


Both the MetroJet and GermanWings incidents were deliberate acts of destruction, not accidents in any common understanding of the word, or indeed in the sense defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

The Chicago Convention, as it's also known, defines an accident as:

An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft [...] in which [...] a person is fatally or seriously injured [...] except when the injuries are [...] inflicted by other persons.

My emphasis added - see Annexe 13 of the Convention for the full definition - it's quite dry but interesting, if you're interested in that kind of thing. The exceptions it lists are illuminating.

Deliberate acts and "incidents"

I do think that the definitions in the Annexe are slightly odd. You'd think that the deliberate destruction of an airliner in flight should be called an incident, but an incident is apparently:

An occurrence, other than an accident, [affecting safety].

I guess that's one way of describing a bombing or deliberate crash into terrain... but then there's also a Serious incident which is merely:

An incident involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred. [my emphasis again]

So that would make the GermanWings and MetroJet cases incidents, but not serious incidents!

However: since "Appendix 7" of the ICAO Accident/Incident Reporting Manual lists "types of incident", and deliberate acts of destruction are not amongst them, I can only deduce that they are classified as neither incidents nor accidents. I am not sure exactly what the official terminology is for them.

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    $\begingroup$ It is odd, indeed. I would actually expect accident to include the deliberate acts, because the rules for investigating them, from the ICAO point of view, are the same and have the same purpose of suggesting measures to reduce risk of similar occurrence in future. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 7, 2016 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec The distinction probably comes from a liability standpoint--who to blame. With an accident (non-deliberate) you start looking at the aircraft maker and maintainer. With a deliberate act you start looking at the one who committed the act. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2016 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec But the very meaning of the word "accident" means non-deliberate. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jun 7, 2016 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ There are at least three different sets of terminology here: (1) everyday English, as defined in a dictionary and used by the media, (2) "incident" and "accident" as formally defined in the Chicago Convention, and (3) "accidental" as defined in the relevant Insurance policies. Working in the industry, the general rule is that every event is an "incident" (i.e. something that happened must be reported, but without any demonstrated issues either of safety or individual responsibility) until an investigation has proved that "incident" is the wrong classification. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Jun 7, 2016 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ The intention of the Annex 13 wording seems to be that an incident is a sub- accident (incident: something went wrong, serious incident: something went really wrong, accident: something went really wrong and people were badly injured or the aircraft was badly damaged). I don't think it was written to take into account this kind of event. $\endgroup$
    – hobbs
    May 11, 2019 at 16:34

From the IATA link:

[W]e were all shocked and horrified by two deliberate acts—the destruction of Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268.

They are not, however, included in the accident statistics as they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference.

RE comment:

How is it reasonable to talk about safety if we exclude non-jet, non-accidental and non-passenger flights, that crashed?

If no passengers (e.g., Carson Air) and/or if no IATA member is involved, then it is beyond IATA's scope, which is a trade association for most (but not all) air carriers. As far as IATA is concerned, 2015 was a good year.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't need to download the pdf, it's right there on the page. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Jun 7, 2016 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 The "jet" term in addition to "hull losses" does not appear in the main article, so I think this doesn't count. I didn't went as deep as reading the PDF, because I assume, that both front-page and attached document should be equal. The fact, that -- as you say -- "the website" contains reference to jet-only hull loses, while you can't find "jet" word in front-page article (except for two occurrences in "Metrojet") is even more confusing to me, but maybe I am missing come obvious thing. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Also to explain, why I didn't accept your answer. While you have proven, that I misunderstood certain points, you have only explained why two incidents mentioned by me does not qualify into statistics and definition. But you didn't actually answer the question, which asks, how to understand "accidental hull loss" term. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:39

I think your question actually deserves a second answer, approaching it from another direction. You ask "How can IATA make this claim?"

What is actually being claimed?

In fact, the claim is quite slippery, and you'll notice that it is expressed in multiple different ways, with different meanings, in different reports.

These include:

(They're also written in a way that makes one wonder whether the zero figure only refers to "IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)-registered carriers", though in fact I think that's not the case.)

Then you can read other reports that relate the news as "The number of airline accidents declined in 2015 with no deaths from jet aircraft reported", "Not a single passenger died in a jetliner accident", and so on. No wonder people find it hard to see what is actually being claimed.

The six conditions

But anyway, working from IATA's own texts, the actual point is that in 2015 there were no incidents that were all of the following:

  • hull-losses (i.e. the aircraft was destroyed or written-off)
  • accidental (deliberate acts don't count)
  • involved fatalities...
  • ...of passengers
  • of jet aircraft
  • operated by airlines

I'm guessing that if we exclude any one of those conditions the figure will no longer be zero, but I'll leave that for others to show or not.

If there's anything to be concluded from this, it's that words do actually mean things and when they change, so does meaning!

  • $\begingroup$ Well, this is a great answer... again! :> The only thing, that I don't understand, is why did you give another answer instead of editing and extending the one you already have here? I think, that's how things works here anyway? $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Jun 11, 2016 at 6:32

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