2017 marked the minimum amount of accidents on air transport

Anastasia Dagaeva
January 5, 2018

2017 was the safest year in the history of commercial aviation, according to the Aviation Safety Network and Dutch aviation consulting firm To70.

Over the year 2017 the Aviation Safety Network recorded a total of 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 occupant fatalities and 35 persons on the ground. This makes 2017 the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities. No jets crashed in passenger service anywhere in the world. The chances of a plane being involved in a fatal accident is now one in 16 million, according to the lead researcher, Adrian Young. “It is unlikely that this historic low will be maintained; in part, these very positive figures rest on good fortune. Nevertheless, the safety level that civil aviation has achieved is remarkable”, he told The Independent

As the aviation industry celebrated this milestone, President Donald Trump took to Twitter, presumably during or after a cable news report on the data this morning, and claimed credit for this, twitting: 

The Washington Post, however doubts that Trump’s input was a remarkable one, reporting that Global and US commercial aviation deaths have been trending downward for more than a decade due to a variety of factors such as aircraft safety systems and airlines adopting safety programs designed to spot potential problems before an accident occurs rather than relying on learning lessons from analysis after a crash.

"2017 was the safest year for aviation ever," Young also said, but added civil aviation still carried "very large risks”. He pointed to new technology including fears of lithium-ion batteries catching fire on-board, as well as "mental health issues and fatigue," among the main risk factors for the industry.

And he highlighted that there were "several quite serious non-fatal accidents" including the "spectacular" failure of an engine on an Air France A380, reports BBC.

The deadliest incident last year occurred in January when a Turkish Boeing-747F cargo jet smashed into a village, on approach to Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan as it tried to land at a nearby airport in dense fog, killing 35 on the ground and all four onboard. 

In 2016, 271 people lost their lives in seven fatal events. They included the crash of an Egyptair flight from Paris to Cairo which killed 66, and a LaMia jet carrying the Brazilian football team Chapecoense which ran out of fuel in Colombia and crashed with the loss of 71 lives. The death toll in the two previous years was significantly higher.  

In 2015, 471 people died in four crashes; they included a Metrojet flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia, which killed 224, and a Germanwings Airbus A320 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf whose first officer, Andreas Lubitz, killed 150 on board by deliberately crashing into the French Alps. 

In 2014, 864 people died in five crashes, including the losses of two Malaysia Airlines 777s: MH370, whose fate is still unknown, and MH17, downed by a missile over eastern Ukraine. 

According to Flight Global, on average, from the point of view of passengers, the airline industry as a whole over the last five years was almost eight times safer than it was as recently as 10 years ago, and almost 20 times safer than 20 years ago.