Fatal accident and passenger fatality rates were the lowest on record last year, according to aviation information provider Ascend.
In addition, it was a good year for insurers: with no major catastrophes in the sky or on the ground.
The estimated cost of incurred hull and liability losses in 2011 is not much more than half that recorded in 2010 – the lowest for seven years.
Ascend’s director of safety Paul Hayes said: “It’s the safest year ever.
“Airlines are getting safer – and more quickly than they’re expanding.
“On average, overall airline operations are now twice as safe as they were 15 years ago.”
Last year, five accidents, two in Russia, two in the Democratic Republic of Congo and one in Iran accounted for 62 per cent of air accident fatalities.
In total, the fatal accident rate improved from about one per 1.3 million flights overall in 2010 to one per 1.52 million flights.
There were just 25 deadly accidents in 2011, claiming 497 lives, compared to 2010 when there were 28 such accidents, with 828 deaths.
Hayes added: “For insurers, passenger safety doesn’t necessarily equate to low claims; however, in 2011 it did.
“The cost of incurred airline hull and legal liability losses for 2011 is about US$1.18 billion – some US$966 million less than in 2010.
“We see the low level of incurred loss in 2011 as very much a mixed blessing. Most insurers will probably have made money this year, but that only begins to make up for a number of bad years they’ve had recently and it is sure to increase the pressure for insurance rate reductions.”