New Plane Stats: One Fatal Accident Per 5M Flights

Total number of deaths fell by half, to 257, in 2019
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2020 10:40 AM CST
Plane Crash Fatalities Fell by Half in 2019
In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.   (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)

It may seem surprising in a year filled with gloomy headlines about the 737 Max, but the number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019, according to a report by an aviation consulting firm. The To70 consultancy said 257 people died in eight fatal accidents in 2019, compared to 534 deaths in 13 fatal accidents in 2018, per the AP. The worst crash of 2019 involved an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max plane that crashed March 10, killing 157 people. The report said the fatal accident rate for large planes in commercial air transport fell to 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019 from 0.30 fatal accidents per million flights in 2018. That means there was one fatal accident for every 5.58 million flights.

Last year may have seen fewer deaths but did not equal the historic low of 2017, which saw only two fatal accidents, involving regional turboprops, that resulted in the loss of 13 lives. The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a Bek Air Fokker 100 crashed Friday on takeoff in Kazakhstan, killing 12 people. This report is based on crashes involving larger aircraft used for most commercial passenger flights. It excludes accidents involving small planes, military flights, cargo flights, and helicopters. In regard to Boeing, the report said fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019 that led to the grounding of the 737 Max raised questions about how aviation authorities approve aviation designs derived from older ones, and about how much pilot training is needed on new systems.

(Read more air travel stories.)

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