Despite more flights being made than ever before, 2017 marked the safest year in commercial airline history.
A report by the Aviation Safety Network, which records all air crashes and incidents reported around the world, found there were 10 fatal accidents in 2017, resulting in 79 deaths. Remarkably, there were no deaths involving passenger jets. This compares with 16 accidents and 303 deaths in 2016.
The statistics are based on all worldwide commercial flights (passenger and cargo flights) involving civil aircraft that carry 14 or more passengers. Military aircrafts are not included.
The impressive numbers reflect the aviation industry's improving safety record. In 2005, there were more than 1000 deaths on-board commercial passenger jets. Now, with over 36 million flights per year worldwide, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights.
1972 remains the deadliest year in aviation history, when 2,469 people died in 55 accidents involving commercial flights - a remarkable number considering there were only 9.5 million flights.
“Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), IATA (International Air Transport Association), Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry,” said Harro Ranter, president of ASN.
A separate report from Dutch aviation consultancy company To70, noted that while 2017 was the safest year for aviation ever, civil aviation still carried "very large risks". Spokesman Adrian Young said the increasing use of highly-flammable lithium-ion batteries in electronics was an ongoing challenge for the industry, as well as "mental health issues and fatigue" in pilots.
Mr. Young also noted that there were still "several quite serious non-fatal accidents" that could have been catastrophic. These included the Air France flight AF66 that spectacularly lost part of its engine over the Atlantic, before making an emergency landing in Canada.