It once seemed impossible, but the airline industry has finally pulled off a long-sought-after global goal: It got through an entire year without a single jetliner fatality due to pilot snafus, plane malfunctions, and/or weather conditions, per the Wall Street Journal. Stats issued by the International Air Transport Association called 2015 an "extraordinarily safe year," noting that 37.6 million jets and turboprops safely shuttled more than 3.5 billion passengers to their destinations. Those numbers don't include two planes brought down by supposed criminal actions: Germanwings 9525, likely due to pilot suicide, and Metrojet 9268, believed to have been downed by terrorism, per an IATA release.
The benchmark was reached after steadily declining numbers in recent years: In 2013 there were six fatal jetliner crashes worldwide, and in 2014 that dropped to three. "Long-term trend data shows us that flying is getting even safer," IATA CEO Tony Tyler says. There were four propeller-plane crashes in 2015, resulting in 136 deaths, and the Journal notes these planes are usually in more far-flung areas with less-experienced pilots. But even turboprop accidents saw a 60% reduction in crashes from 2014. And every global region saw an improved safety performance in 2015 compared with the previous five-year rate, except North America. (Read more airline safety stories.)