2011 on Track to Be Airlines' Safest Year Ever

But experts warn that we must keep working on safety
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2011 1:33 PM CST
2011 on Track to Be Airlines' Safest Year Ever
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxis on the runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, July 13, 2011.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Assuming nothing terrible happens between now and Saturday, 2011 will close as the safest year ever for commercial aviation. For every 7.1 million fliers around the globe, there was about one passenger death, which will break the previous record of one per 6.4 million, set in 2004. But experts warn that we must continue to improve safety around the world, rather than be lulled into complacency by this year's numbers. Ground safety and pilot training are two areas to focus on, as well as increasing awareness of flight hazards in certain developing countries, the Wall Street Journal notes.

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More numbers (acts of terrorism are excluded from all figures):

  • Another low is the total number of passenger deaths; as of today that number stands at 401. Though it was lower in 2004, when 344 passengers were killed in commercial aviation accidents, that year saw 30% fewer passengers as well as far fewer flights.
  • Western-built planes have fared best, with one major crash per 3 million flights, the best number since the International Air Transport Association began tracking crashes in the 1940s. When factoring in other types of airliners, the crash rate is about two per million flights.
  • We are also in the midst of the longest period without a fatal airliner accident in modern aviation; nobody has died in an airliner since an Oct. 13 propeller plane crash in Papua New Guinea. The previous record was 61 days in 1985.
Click to see why the runway might actually be the most dangerous place for airline passengers. (Read more airline safety stories.)

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