As 2017 drew to a close, many aviation industry experts applauded the excellent safety record compiled recently by large commercial passenger jets. On New Year’s Day, the Aviation Safety Network (“the ASN”) and a Dutch consulting firm, To70, both announced the absence of any large commercial passenger jetliner crashes during the past year. These sources claimed only 10 accidents occurred involving commercial passenger jets, producing a total of 44 fatalities.
Calculating Commercial Airliner Safety Rates
With an estimated total of 36.8 million flights in the commercial passenger jet category during 2017, analysts noted one fatality per 7.36 million departures. To70 calculated the fatality rate as one fatal accident per every 16 million flights. Overall, including cargo planes and turbo prop planes, the aviation industry during 2017 witnessed a total of 10 fatal accidents. These events killed 35 people on the ground and 44 people in planes.
The tally included a tragedy which occurred on the final day of 2017, when a charter flight operated by Nature Air crashed shortly after takeoff in a remote region of Costa Rica. All 12 people aboard the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan reportedly perished in that accident. A crash of a Turkish cargo jet in January, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan caused the highest number of fatalities during a single incident. While attempting to land on a foggy runway, the cargo plane instead struck a residential neighborhood. The flight crew and 35 people on the ground died.
Statistics During Previous Years
The casualty rates reported during 2017 represented a safety improvement over figures collected during many previous years. General aviation accidents cost 412 lives in the United States alone during 2016. (None of those deaths involved commercial jetliners, however.) That year, 16 accidents involving commercial flights killed a total of 303 people around the world.
Three years stood out as particularly unsafe for commercial air travel in the statistics collected by ASN. During 2014, 2005 and 2002 the industry recorded high fatality figures associated with commercial air flights: 961, 1056, and 1069 deaths occurred, respectively. (The 2001 statistics apparently did not include deaths due to terrorism perpetrated against the World Trade Centers in New York City.) Harro Ranter, the President of ASN, believes the statistical record demonstrates improving commercial airline safety during recent years. He credits this result to an emphasis upon promoting safety by international aviation organizations.