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Safety first

Flying safely

Striving for the highest standards

When we look into the skies today and see aircraft flying overhead, their cabins filled with vacationing families and business travellers, it is easy to take the existence of commercial aviation for granted. And yet every year around 3.5 billion people take to the skies, and more importantly, reach their destination safely. 

Considering the incredible challenges of moving machines weighing hundreds of tonnes at speeds of around 1,000 km per hour, achieving safe flight for so many people could be considered miraculous. Airbus certainly believes that it is a great achievement. 

Today’s very low rate of accidents is the planned outcome of a combined effort from all across the industry. Commercial aviation has a long commitment to ensuring safety in everything it does. Airbus makes it the top priority in the design and operation of aircraft, as well as in the training of those people that fly and maintain them.

Airbus recognises and values the trust the flying public put in its aircraft, and this is the reason the company constantly strives to improve safety any way it can. Its investment in successive generations of aircraft which embody new and safer technologies have been very successful in achieving an ever-decreasing number of accidents despite an ever-increasing number of flights. 

Today, with the rate of accidents at an all-time low, Airbus is working even harder to ensure that accidents remain incredibly rare events.

How technology has contributed to aviation safety

Aviation accident statistics show how technology has improved aviation safety

The huge reduction in the accident rate of commercial aviation has only been achieved by a long and ongoing commitment by the industry to place safety at the heart of its mission. While a significant part of this success is due to effective regulation and a strong safety culture and improvements in training, advances in technology also have been a critical element. Aircraft systems technology in particular has been conscientiously evolved with safety in mind. 

The first generation of jets were designed in the 1950s and 1960s with systems technologies that were limited in their capabilities by the analogue electronics of the era. A second generation of jet aircraft with improved auto-flight systems quickly appeared. The third generation of jets was introduced in the early 1980s. This generation took advantage of digital technologies to introduce “glass cockpits” with Navigation Displays and Flight Management Systems (FMS). Combined with improved navigation performance capabilities, as well as Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), these capabilities were key to reducing Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents. 

The fourth and latest generation of civil aircraft was introduced in 1988 with the Airbus A320. Fourth-generation aircraft use Fly-By-Wire (FBW) technology with Flight Envelope Protection functions. This

additional protection helps to protect against Loss Of Control Inflight (LOC-I) accidents. FBW technology now is the industry standard and is used on all currently-produced Airbus models, including the A330, A350 XWB and the A380. The latest models from other manufacturers also use this technology. 

Airbus’ commitment to Safety

The constant focus on safe operations

No aircraft accident is ever acceptable. This is why it is Airbus’ top priority to continually improve safety. Its commitment to safety starts at the top, is reflected in the structure of its organisation, and is most deeply embodied in the mind-set employees bring to daily work. 

Whenever safety topics must be discussed, it is done at the appropriate level, including by Airbus’ senior executives. By acting together, the company ensures that the full power of coordinated cross-company action can be brought to bear on any issue where it is believed that safety can be further enhanced. 

Airbus employees are trained to recognise that the lives of passengers and airline personnel can depend on their personal commitment to safety, and to ensure that they are aware of how their personal actions can improve safety. 

A key aspect of Airbus’ philosophy on safety is to recognise that aircraft operate safely not only when they are safely designed, tested and built, but also when they are safely maintained and flown by operators, and finally, when the air transport system in which aircraft fly is safely organised. 

Airbus therefore works to ensure safety in:  

  • The design of aircraft and in the quality of manufacturing and support
  • The materials/manuals supplied to customers to operate and maintain the aircraft
  • The training provided to flight crews, cabin crews and maintenance crews
  • The worldwide services delivered in support of the aircraft’s operation 

Beyond this, Airbus is in constant contact with other aircraft manufacturers, airlines and air safety organisations around the world to find new ways of improving safety standards. The company believes that industry wide cooperation is crucial to making further safety enhancements.

Cooperation and sharing are keys to safety enhancement

Safety is not a matter of competition in the aviation industry. Sharing of safety information is essential in order to continue enhancing safety and preventing accidents. Airbus has several safety information sharing initiatives including:

The project called "Destination 10X Together" provides a platform upon which Airbus and operators can collaborate to propose pragmatic solutions to key identified safety issues.

Publication of the "Safety first" magazine helps to share lessons-learned with operators and the wider aviation community, as well as to highlight new safety enhancements that Airbus or others have made available.

Airbus’ annual publication "Statistical Analysis of Commercial Aviation Accidents" provides analysis of the historical trends evident in commercial aviation’s safety record, and discussion of how forecasted aviation macro-trends may relate to safety.


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