2018 the third-safest year to fly

  • 02/01/2019

A new report shows last year was one of the safest for the commercial aviation sector, despite a number of high-profile crashes.

The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) recorded 15 fatal crashes and 556 deaths in commercial flights around the world, making it the third-safest year in terms of fatal accidents and ninth in terms of fatalities.

Twelve involved passenger flights, and three were cargo.

"Given the estimated worldwide air traffic of about 37,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal accident per 2,540,000 flights," the ASN said in a statement.

The worst accident was October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed 189.

2017 tops the list, with only 10 fatal accidents which killed 44. None of the fatal crashes were passenger jets.

The commercial aviation sector's accident and death rates have been falling since the early 1990s.

Flight data for 2018.
Flight data for 2018. Photo credit: ASN

"If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year," said ASN chief executive Harro Ranter.

"At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been even 64 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades."

According to the World Health Organisation, around 1.35 million people die every year in road accidents. Last year saw New Zealand's worst road toll in a decade.

Around 40 percent of the worst commercial air accidents are caused by loss of control, the ASN said.

Military disasters - such as the Algerian Air Force IL-76 transport plane crash in April that killed 257 - aren't counted towards the ASN's total.

The worst year on record for fatalities was 1996, when 1844 died. In terms of crashes it was 1948, with 99.