Traveling by Plane Was Mind-Bogglingly Safe in 2017

Zero commercial jets crashed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2018 8:34 AM CST
Flights were safer last year than at any other time in history.   (Getty Images/gorsh13)

(Newser) – Two separate reports reveal a big find for 2017: zero crashes of commercial passenger jets anywhere in the world, report the BBC and Reuters. The reports come courtesy of the To70 Dutch consultancy group and the Aviation Safety Network, with the latter proclaiming 2017 "the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities." The ASN notes there were only 10 fatal airliner accidents in total last year (half cargo planes, half turbo-prop aircraft), resulting in 44 fatalities on the planes and 35 on the ground. Compare that with 2016, when the group registered 16 accidents that led to 303 deaths. Meanwhile, To70 estimates that the fatal accident rate for large commercial aircraft stands at just one fatal accident per every 16 million flights (the BBC notes this figure was arrived at before a New Year's Eve crash in Costa Rica that killed 12).

The last commercial passenger jet crash with fatalities happened in November 2016 in Colombia, killing 71, while the last commercial passenger airline to kill more than 100 took place in October 2015 in Egypt, with 224 deaths. The deadliest year of all was 1972, when 2,469 people died on 55 commercial flights, per the Telegraph. "Since 1997, the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline," says ASN President Harro Ranter. Still, 2018 may not see similarly "remarkable" numbers as 2017, a To70 rep tells the Independent: "It is unlikely that this historic low will be maintained. In part, these very positive figures rest on good fortune." The To70 report adds "there is no room for complacency," noting areas that require scrutiny, including fatigue among crew members and the fire hazard posed by lithium-ion batteries in passengers' electronic devices.

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