By Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO
Cooperation delivers amazing results. On average, over 7.6 million people fly every day. They do it safely. That is due to the team effort that has united the aviation value chain with a common purpose since the dawn of commercial aviation. The dedication to constant improvement has made aviation the safest way to travel—so safe that we take the phenomenal technical achievement of flight for granted.
As the books closed on 2011, the accident rate for Western-built jet aircraft was the best in history. For every 2.7 million flights that took off, there was just one accident that resulted in irreparable damage to the aircraft. At that rate, a person could fly safely every day for about 7,000 years.
Of course, any accident is one too many. Each and every day, our industry earns its license to grow with the dedication to constant improvement of each and every employee, company, and partner in the value chain.
Environmental sustainability is also a prerequisite to securing our future. The Air Transport Action Group’s annual Aviation and Environment Summit was an opportunity for the aviation industry to display its resolve to be as successful in reducing its emissions as it is in constantly improving safety. With a common goal to cut aviation’s emissions in half by 2050 compared with 2005 levels, the challenge is substantial.
Expectations are high. We must deliver.
That means remaining united in our efforts to improve efficiency across the board, investing in new technology, and turning sustainable biofuels into a commercial reality. It also means bringing governments on board—moving away from the impasse on Europe’s misguided unilateral approach of including aviation in its emissions trading scheme towards finding a global solution on market-based measures, and creating the policy framework within which sustainable biofuels can cost-efficiently power the aviation industry.
Securing aviation’s future is well worth a coordinated effort by governments and the industry. A recent study by Oxford Economics shows that aviation supports the livelihoods of 56.6 million people and makes possible $2.2 trillion in global economic activity. The connectivity that aviation creates powers the global economy. Fully 35% of the value of goods traded internationally is transported by air—from cell phones, automobile components, and computer chips, to flowers, fresh fruits, and critical medicines.
Billions of people depend on the success of aviation. Be it improving safety, sustainability, or aviation’s ability to facilitate business, working together—government and industry—is the only way forward.