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Rise in aviation accidents belies overall downward trend

Rise in aviation accidents belies overall downward trend

Despite several high-profile accidents, last year was one of the safest years ever for commercial aviation, data from the Aviation Safety Network reveal.

Yet, last year was worse than the five-year average.

Over the year 2018, the network recorded a total of 15 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 556 fatalities.

This makes 2018 the third safest year ever by the number of fatal accidents and the ninth safest in terms of fatalities.

The safest year in aviation history was 2017 with ten accidents and 44 lives lost.

Looking at that five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities, last year was worse on both accounts.

Twelve accidents involved passenger flights, three were cargo flights.

Three out of 15 accident airplanes were operated by airlines on the EU “blacklist,” up by two compared to 2017.

Given the estimated worldwide air traffic of about 37,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal accident per 2,520,000 flights.

Last year’s worst civilian accident was in October when a Lion Air plane crashed in Indonesia.


Reflecting on this accident rate, Aviation Safety Network chief executive Harro Ranter stated that the level of safety has increased significantly:

“If the accident rate had remained the same as ten years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year.

“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,” he explained.

Looking back at the past five years, one thing is clear: loss of control accidents are a major safety concern as this type of accident was responsible for at least ten of the 25 worst accidents.

Most of those accidents were not survivable.

Statistics from the Aviation Safety Network are based on all worldwide fatal commercial aircraft accidents (passenger and cargo flights) involving civil aircraft of which the basic model has been certified for carrying 14 or more passengers.

Consequently, the April 11th accident involving an Algerian Air Force IL-76 transport plane that killed 257 is not included.

When including military transport aircraft, the total number fatalities would be 917 in 25 fatal accidents.

The Aviation Safety Network is an independent organisation located in the Netherlands.

Founded in 1996. It has the aim to provide everyone with a (professional) interest in aviation with up-to-date, complete and reliable authoritative information on airliner accidents and safety issues.