Although the global airline industry is rightfully proud of its overall safety record, it's not perfect by any means, and it likely never will be.
According a report just released by To70, an aviation consulting firm, there was a dramatic increase in airline deaths for 2018. In fact, while in 2017 just 13 people died in commercial airline accidents, 534 people died in commercial airline accidents in 2018. And while there were just 48 accidents in 2017, there were far more -- a total of 160 -- in 2018.
In doing its analysis, To70 examined accidents only to larger passenger aircraft commonly used by most travelers, and specifically excluded military flights, training flights, private flights, cargo operations, and helicopters.
Here are some of the accidents that led to passenger deaths:
- On February 11th, 71 people died when a Saratov Airlines flight crashed after takeoff from Stepanovskoye, Russia.
- On April 16th, a woman died when an engine on her Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas partially disintegrated, damaging the plane's fuselage and pulling the woman partially out of her window. This was the first death on a Southwest Airlines flight due to an in-flight accident in the company's entire history.
- On May 18th, 112 people on board a Boeing 737 died when their Global Air/Cubana aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana, Cuba.
- On August 4th, 20 people died when a 1939 Junkers aircraft flown by Swiss Ju-Air crashed into the side of a mountain.
- On October 29th, all 189 people on board a new Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX aircraft died when the plane went down in the Java Sea about 15 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia.
The good news is that, despite this dramatic uptick in airline accidents and deaths, flying remains a relatively safe way to travel. Of the 160 commercial airline accidents recorded in 2018, no one died in 147 of them. Not only that, but according to World Health Organization data from a few years ago, approximately 1.25 million people die every year in road traffic deaths.
Here's hoping that the number of deaths in airline accidents drops to zero in 2019.