Only 466 people died in airline accidents during period - the lowest figure since 1984 - but crash rate hits record low

Far fewer people died in airline accidents worldwide during 2004 than in any year during the last two decades. Last year there were 28 fatal accidents in which a total of 466 people died, compared with 2003 - also an exceptionally safe year - in which 702 people were killed in 27 accidents.

The only year in the jet era that comes close to the 2004 safety record was 1984, when 448 people died in 29 fatal airline accidents. That year, however, was extraordinarily safe by the standards of its time, and the accident rate - the number of fatal accidents per million flights - was almost three times what it is now because there were far fewer flights in 1984.

Continuing a record that has held since 2001, last year there were no fatal accidents involving European-, North American- or Australasian-registered large jets. There were five fatal accidents involving big jets, and these involved aircraft registered in Africa (two) and Asia (three). The number of fatal accidents last year, which increased by one over 2003, was inflated by an unusually high proportion of non-passenger aircraft crashes, mostly involving pure cargo operators. Seventeen of the fatal accidents involved non-passenger flights, and these added 49 fatalities to the total for the year, leaving only 11 accidents involving passenger operations. Among those, six were regional and commuter flights.

Not included is the sabotage of two Russian airliners killing all 90 people on board. Two terrorists - believed to have been Chechen suicide bombers - succeeded in boarding two flights on 24 August at Moscow Domodedovo airport and downing a Sibir Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 and Volga-Avia Express Tu-134.

Full accident analysis 25-31 January


Source: Flight International