The loss of a TANS Boeing 737 yesterday was the fifth major airliner accident in 21 days and takes the death toll to at least 338. That is a pretty awful record and the cost in human misery scarcely bears contemplation. So just what is going on?
I wish I knew. What we've seen is a mixture of some very odd things and some depressingly familiar things.
On the familiar side we have the two Latin American losses: we don't know the root causes, but it remains true that the combination in that part of the world of wild terrain, often challenging weather, earlier generation aircraft, and thinner infrastructure are unforgiving when anything goes wrong.
Less familiar are the losses of two well-equipped aircraft with experienced crews in the benign operating conditions of the Mediterranean summer, and both in yet to be explained circumstances.
Stranger still are the losses of two aircraft with double engine failure - rare enough at any time, an extraordinary coincidence within 10 days of each other.
And then there is the A340 loss in Toronto - thankfully non-fatal - involving an aircraft boasting the finest design features that today's industry can offer, operated by one of the world's premir airlines, and being lost at one of the world's most modern airports.
At this stage in the investigations the common factors are not obvious, though they may become so, and it is difficult to see what conclusions can be drawn.
Not for the first time there is a statistical blip in the distribution of accidents - albeit an unusually marked one - but 2005 overall remains a generally safe year. It is now going to be less safe in terms of fatalities than 2004, but on current trends will still be better than almost any other year - depending of course on events in the remaining four months.