BEIJING—The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) is calling for Asian countries to step up their safety oversight, to end the region’s lagging international performance.

The association’s data analysis shows that smaller Asian carriers, following years of dramatic safety improvements, are now suffering more crashes than they did around 2010. This seems to point to how new airlines are assessed as a cause for concern.

Globally, “the industry is extraordinarily safe and getting safer,” AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman says. Using three-year averages to reveal the trend, the association finds that 0.8 Western-built commercial jet aircraft were lost in accidents for every million flights in 2002-04. By 2012-14, the rate had fallen to fewer than 0.2 losses per million flights. 

“But in Asia it is plateauing or slightly rising,” Herdman says. After bottoming at a little over 0.2 in 2008-10, the Asian loss rate reached 0.4 per million flights in 2012-14. 

“We want more regulatory oversight,” Herman told Aviation Week on the sidelines of the Beijing International Forum on Civil Aviation Safety.

An audit of Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this year resulted in the global body reporting “significant safety concerns.” Japan then refused to authorize additional flights to its territory by Thai carriers. 

The association found that aircraft of smaller carriers—a category that includes most start-ups—are more likely to crash than those of larger airlines. 

New carriers are especially prominent in Asia, where economic growth exceeds the world average, and where the budget-airline model arrived late, leaving plenty of market opportunities.

Herdman wonders whether closer oversight is needed for companies that have recently received air operator’s certificates (AOCs). “Are AOCs being granted without proper screening?” he adds.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged further accident-prevention efforts by China, a country with an outstanding safety record, despite extremely rapid traffic growth. IATA Director General Tony Tyler particularly points to the risk of carrying lithium batteries, which can cause fires.

“China is a major production center for lithium batteries,” Tyler told the conference in Beijing. “Ensuring the safe carriage of this cargo is a major concern for the Chinese air transport industry. Because of the complex supply chains involved, it is crucial that all stakeholders are aligned.”

IATA provides guidelines for the shipment of lithium batteries, which now includes translation in Chinese.