However, despite several accidents including the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, 2018 was one of the safest years for commercial aviation.
A total of 15 fatal plane crashes and 556 fatalities were reported in 2018, showing a sharp jump in the number of deaths due to air crashes. The numbers last year were worse than the five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities, said a report released by the Aviation Safety Network on Tuesday.
The year 2017 was the safest year for flying on commercial airlines, with no passenger jet crashes reported.
In 2018, there were several high-profile accidents, including October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed all 189 people on board, but it was one of the safest years ever for commercial aviation, said the report by the Netherlands-based group.
“This makes 2018 the third safest year ever by the number of fatal accidents and the ninth safest in terms of fatalities,” it said. “The safest year in aviation history was 2017 with 10 accidents and 44 lives lost.”
Of the 15 accidents, 12 involved passenger flights and three were cargo flights. Among the crashes recording the highest number of fatalities were a Boeing 737 domestic passenger plane in May in Cuba, which killed 112 people, and a Saratov Airlines crash in Russia in February that killed 71 people. The other accidents with most deaths were an Iran Aseman Airlines aircraft crash that killed 66 people in February and a US-Bangla Airlines plane that crashed in Kathmandu, in which 51 passengers died.
With the worldwide air traffic estimated to be about 3,78,00,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal accident per 25,20,000 flights, said the report. “If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year,” said Aviation Safety Network Chief Executive Officer Harro Ranter. “At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been even 64 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”
The report said that loss of control accidents were a major safety concern for the aviation industry as these accounted for at least 10 of the worst 25 accidents in the past five years. Loss of control refers to an unrecoverable deviation from an intended flight path, which can be caused by mechanical failure, human action or environmental disturbances. Most of those accidents were not survivable, said the network.
The report added that three of the 15 accidents occurred on planes operated by airlines on the European Union “blacklist”, up by two compared to 2017. The European Safety List imposes a partial or complete operational ban on carriers that do not adhere to applicable international safety standard.