Aircraft accidents happen more often than most people think, with passengers in private planes more likely to die in a crash than those on a commercial airline, a report says.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) found there were 130 accidents, 121 serious incidents and 6823 incidents involving Australian aircraft last year.

These included a freight flight that disappeared while trying to land in the Torres Strait Islands, a Boeing 777 that flew just 1000 feet above suburban Melbourne and an ABC helicopter tragically lost on a flight over Lake Eyre.

"Aviation occurrence statistics provide a reminder to everyone involved in the operation of aircraft that accidents, incidents, and injuries happen more often than is widely believed," the report said.

The report found that 16 people died in accidents involving private and emergency service planes last year, with two deaths on airline flights.

The private plane accidents were often the a result of collisions on the ground, failure keep enough distance between aircraft or problems controlling the plane.

Wildlife strikes and failure to comply with air traffic control were also the cause of accidents.

Commercial planes were generally safer, with most accidents and serious incidents related to inadequate aircraft separation and engine issues.

The fatal accident rate for commercial planes over 2002 to 2011 showed that there was an average of slightly over one fatal accident per million departures in any year, peaking in 2002 when there were four fatal accidents.

There were no fatal accidents in 2004 and 2009.

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AAP