• Declared emergencies are among the occurrences that must be reported to us. In 2017, there were nearly 2,000 declared emergencies, representing 6% of the occurrences reported to us. Statistically, this corresponds to six emergencies per day involving UK aviation.  Of these emergencies, nearly 66% are due to passenger medical issues.

    There are two classes of emergency messages that identify different events and levels of severity:

    • Distress: representing serious and/or imminent danger and requiring immediate assistance. Identified with the prefix 'MAYDAY'
    • Urgency: conditions concerning the safety of an aircraft or other vehicle, or of some person on board or within sight, but which does not require immediate assistance. Prefixed with the word 'PAN'.

    According to the data available, in 2017, these were some of the most frequently reported emergencies:

    • Passenger medical condition
    • Fuel and/or weather related
    • Flight or cabin crew incapacitation
    • Technical malfunction of aircraft systems

    Flight and cabin crews are continuously trained to ensure efficient handling of emergencies. In the case of emergency, it is important to stay calm and follow the instructions of the crew.  

    In some cases, normal operations can be mistakenly perceived as emergency procedures: a go-around manoeuvre is often a good example. A go-around is the manoeuvre initiated when the crew makes the decision not to continue an approach, or not to continue a landing.

    In commercial aviation, initiating and conducting a go-around manoeuvre is frequently a standard procedure for normal operations. Although a go-around may be triggered by an emergency, it is more likely that conducting such procedure is the safest option available. If a safe landing cannot be assured, it is a normal procedure to initiate a go-around and flight crews are recurrently trained do it safely.

    Reported emergencies

     MAYDAY   162 
     PAN  ~1,800
     Passenger medical emergency  ~1,300