While flying in a pure jet-powered aircraft has a perfect fatality-free safety record in Australia, other types of flying machines carry some risk.
In its highly detailed 2016 industry scorecard Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2017-2016 the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has reported there were nearly 230 aircraft involved in accidents in Australia, with 291 involved in a serious incident.
And sadly there were 21 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2016, although fewer than any previous year recorded by the ATSB.
Commercial air transport operations experienced one fatality from 15 accidents; general aviation experienced 10 fatalities from 119 accidents; and recreational aviation had 10 fatalities from 63 accidents.
The ATSB report found that hitting the ground was the most common accident or serious incident for general aviation aircraft, recreational aviation and remotely piloted aircraft in 2016.
Aircraft control was the most common cause of an accident or serious incident for air transport operators.
Wildlife, including bird strikes, were again the most common type of incident involving air transport and general aviation operations, with runway events the most common type of incident for recreational aviation.
In 2016, there were a massive 1,581 incidents involving wildlife but that number has be balanced against the number of flights, which topped two million.
The ATSB said the “accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect the higher-risk operational activity when compared to air transport operations”.
“The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are 10 times more likely to have an accident than commercial operations, with recreational aircraft around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation.”
The report said the fatal accident rate per hours flown indicates general aviation operations are around 20 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport, and recreational operations are almost 40 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than air transport.
Recreational gyrocopters experienced the highest fatal accident rate for any aircraft or operation type, whereas recreational balloon operations had the highest total accident rate; almost four times as high as any other aircraft operation type.