Sharp increase in commercial airline crash deaths in 2018

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The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) yesterday released the 2018 commercial airline accident statistics showing 15 fatal accidents resulting in 556 fatalities – a sharp rise on last year but still the ninth safest for the aviation industry on record.

Over the year 2018, the ASN recorded a total of 15 fatal airlne accidents, resulting in 556 fatalities. This makes 2018 the third safest year ever by the number of fatal accidents and the ninth safest in terms of fatalities. 2017 was the safest year in aviation history with 10 accidents and 44 lives lost.

Despite several high-profile accidents, Netherlands-based ASN said looking at that five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities, last year was worse on both accounts. 12 accidents involved passenger flights, three were cargo flights. Three out of 15 accident airplanes were operated by airlines on the European Union “blacklist”, up by two compared to 2017.

Last year’s worst civilian accident was in October when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX (pictured left) aircraft crashed in Indonesia, killing 189. Human error was to blame for a Cubana de Aviación (pictured below) Boeing 737 crash in Cuba in May that killed 112.

In February, 66 people were killed when a Iran Aseman Airlines ATR 72-212 crashed in Iran’s Zagros mountains while 51 people died when a US-Bangla Airlines (pictured above) aircraft crashed landing at Nepal’s Kathmandu Airport in March.

Given the estimated worldwide air traffic of about 37,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal accident per 2.5 million flights.

ASN chief executive officer, Harro Ranter stated that the level of safety has increased significantly: “If the accident rate had remained the same as ten years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year. 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.”

Looking back at the past five years, ASN said one thing is clear, the loss of ontrol accidents are a major safety concern as this type of accident was responsible for at least 12 of the 25 worst accidents. Most of those accidents were not survivable.

Statistics are based on all worldwide fatal commercial aircraft accidents (passenger and cargo flights) involving civil aircraft of which the basic model has been certified for carrying 14 or more passengers.

ASN said the 11 April accident involving an Algerian Air Force IL-76 transport aircraft that killed 257 is not included. When including military transport aircraft the total number fatalities would be 917 in 25 fatal accidents.