Last year was one of the safest ever for global commercial aviation, despite major incidents such as the Ethiopian Airlines accident in March 2019, which saw the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.
While the number of fatalities decreased, the number of accidents increased to a level above the five-year average, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s annual report.
Its data showed that over 2019, there was a total of 20 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 283 fatalities.
This makes 2019 the seventh safest year ever by the number of fatal accidents and the third safest in terms of fatalities. The safest year in aviation history was 2017 with 10 accidents and 44 lives lost.
Looking at that five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities, last year showed a markedly higher number of accidents.
Thirteen accidents involved passenger flights, six were cargo flights. One out of 20 accident aeroplanes were operated by airlines on the EU “blacklist”, down by two compared to 2018.
More than half of the accidents (11) occurred in North America, compared to just one in 2018 and three in 2017.
Five accidents occurred in remote or rugged parts of Canada and Alaska. Despite progress made through various safety initiatives by Canadian and US regulators, this still is an area of concern.
Given the estimated worldwide air traffic of about 39 million flights, the accident rate is one fatal accident per almost two million flights.
Aviation Safety Network CEO Harro Ranter said that the level of safety has increased “significantly”.
“If the accident rate had remained the same as ten years ago, there would have been 34 fatal accidents last year.
“At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would even have been 65 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”