Fiscal 1999, which closed out Sept. 30, 1999, was one of the safest years on record for the Department of Defense according to newly compiled statistics.
The DOD-wide military Class A aviation accident rate was 1.58 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours for fiscal 1999 as compared to 1.64 class A mishap rate in fiscal 1998, a 4 percent reduction. Of significant note, the past five-year class A accident rate is 25 percent lower than the previous five-year rate. The military lost 43 members to aviation accidents in fiscal 1999, down 34 from aviation related deaths in fiscal 1998.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen has said, "Even one accident is too many, and I continue to advocate continuous improvement until we reach a goal of zero accidents, occupational illnesses, and fires. This is an ambitious goal, but to endorse any other goal legitimizes the acceptance of harm. The goal is achievable."
Defense safety officials report that we continued to keep accidental deaths lower for both on- and off-duty mishaps. For fiscal 1999, we had 108 on-duty deaths and 319 off-duty deaths. These deaths reflect a steady reduction over the past seven years. The accidental death rate remained about 30 per 100,000 members assigned.
Privately owned motor vehicle accidents were again the leading cause of death for military members in fiscal 1999, accounting for 280 deaths. This figure is up from 249 deaths in fiscal 1998.
In terms of the value of property losses, military safety officials recorded $3.3 billion in property losses in fiscal 1999. The largest portion of this loss, more than $1.88 billion, was as a result of damage to three satellites. An additional part of the property loss is attributed to 55 destroyed aircraft in aviation accidents which accounted for $1.23 billion in losses in fiscal 1999. That figure is down from fiscal 1998's numbers of 60 destroyed aircraft and $1.49 billion in aviation related property losses.
In acknowledging DoD's safety record, Cohen challenged the military Services to go even further. "Safety is not something we simply add to the task at hand, it must be an integral part of everything we do - both on- and off-duty."
Other measures of safety, while remaining at historically low levels for the past five years, increased or decreased slightly, but these changes were not statistically significant.
Accident trend charts are available on DoD's force protection home page at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/ens/sh/. Service safety statistics may be viewed at the following websites:
Army Safety Center http://safety.army.mil/
Air Force Safety Center http://www-afsc.saia.af.mil/
Naval Safety Center http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/
Marine Corps Safety Division http://www.hqmc.usmc.mil/safety.nsf