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News release

Transportation Safety Board of Canada releases 2021 transportation occurrence statistics

Gatineau, Quebec, 17 June 2022 — Building on the preliminary statistics published in February 2022, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its 2021 final annual statistical summaries on transportation occurrences in the airmarinepipeline, and rail transportation sectors.

Figure 1. 2021 Transportation accidents reported to the TSB
2021 Transportation accidents reported to the TSB

Air transportation sector

Air transportation in Canada continued to be affected by the pandemic during the first half of 2021. During the second half of the year, as vaccination rates increased and travel restrictions began to ease in both Canada and abroad, total aircraft movements resumed to 73.2% of pre-pandemic levels. Overall, aircraft movements at the 90 airports serviced by NAV CANADA reached 4.29 million in 2021, up 11.8% from 3.84 million in 2020. The above figure is indicative of a partial recovery of activity in the commercial sectors responsible for air travel, air cargo, aerial work, and flight training. The numbers presented above also include recreational aviation activity at major airports.

In 2021, a total of 190 air transportation accidents were reported to the TSB. This number is 12% higher than the previous year’s total of 170 accidents but 21% below the yearly average of 239 accidents reported in the prior 10 years, 2011 to 2020. Most (183) of the accidents in 2021 took place in Canada and involved Canadian-registered aircraft.

The TSB recorded 22 fatal air transportation accidents resulting in 32 fatalities in 2021. This in a considerable increase over the 12 fatal accidents and 16 fatalities in 2020, but is still 21% below the annual average of 27.7 fatal accidents and 31% below the annual average of 47 fatalities over the 10 years from 2011 to 2020.

Marine transportation sector

In 2021, 220 marine accidents (accidents resulting directly from the operation of a ship other than a pleasure craft) were reported to the TSB, a decrease from the 2020 total of 264 and below the 10-year (2011–2020) average of 284. In 2021 the proportion of shipping accidents (as opposed to accidents aboard ship) was 80% of marine accidents, comparable to the previous 10-year average of 82%.

In 2021, 11 marine fatalities were reported, down from the 18 fatalities reported in 2020, and below the annual average of 15.6 in the 2011–2020 time period. Of the 11 fatalities in 2021, nine were the result of four shipping accidents, while the remaining two fatalities resulted from accidents aboard ship.

Of note, six of the nine shipping accident fatalities in 2021 involved commercial fishing vessels, and both of the fatalities that ensued from accidents aboard ship occurred aboard commercial fishing vessels. These data indicate that more still needs to be done to improve safety in the commercial fishing industry, an outstanding issue on the TSB Watchlist.

Pipeline transportation sector

In 2021, 115 pipeline transportation occurrences were reported to the TSB, an increase from the 2020 total of 81, but similar to the average number of occurrences for the previous 10 years (117 occurrences). Among all occurrences in 2021, two were accidents. These were the first accidents since 2018 and are less than the previous 10-year (2011 to 2020) average of three accidents per year. Of the 115 occurrences in 2021, 23 involved a release of product, lower than the average of 77 per year over the previous 10 years.

There were no serious injuries or fatalities arising directly from the operation of a federally regulated pipeline in 2021. Indeed, there have been no fatal accidents on a federally regulated pipeline system directly resulting from the operation of a pipeline since the inception of the TSB in 1990.

Rail transportation sector

In 2021, 1038 rail accidents were reported to the TSB, an increase from the 2020 total of 988, but a 3% decrease from the previous 10-year (2011–2020) average of 1071. Of 1038 reported accidents in 2021, 189 (18%) involved fires on railway right-of-way or on rolling stock, which is an increase from 79 such events in 2020 and an average of 40 per year from 2011 to 2020.

Freight trains accounted for 38% of all trains involved in rail accidents in 2021. Four percent (42 in total) were passenger trains, with the remaining 58% comprising mainly single cars/cuts of cars, locomotives, and track units.

Rail fatalities totaled 60 in 2021, unchanged from 2020 but below the previous 10-year average of 71.

In 2021, 86 accidents involved dangerous goods, up from 82 in 2020 but below the 10-year average of 125. Two accidents resulted in a dangerous goods release in 2021, compared with three in 2020, and the 10-year average of four.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376