The fatal domestic plane crash rate has fallen 65% in the last decade. It's not quite the 80% decrease over 10 years the government demanded in 1996 after two crashes killed 375 people, but it's a significant improvement, the Times reports. The decline rests on tighter air traffic control, better equipment, and a focus on accident prevention.
Safety analysts now focus on flights that go off without a hitch rather than increasingly rare crashes. "It's the golden age of safety," says an FAA official. The age may not last: GPS makes flight safer, but traffic increases are straining airports. The biggest threat today is no longer a midair collision; it's a runway crash between two aircraft.