Last year was another exceptionally safe one for aviation. Not a single revenue passenger was killed during what the general travelling public would regard as an "airline flight", writes Paul Hayes in FlightGlobal's Airline Safety & Losses Annual Report 2017.
Unfortunately, the year did bring some fatal accidents. Within our field of focus – commercially operated jet or turboprop-powered airliners or commuters of more than 14 passenger seats or their cargo equivalent; excluding operations by piston engine aircraft, helicopters or smaller jet or turboprop aircraft – there were two accidents that killed revenue passengers. Both involved operations by relatively small turboprop aircraft serving remote communities, in Canada and Russia. Five revenue passengers died in these accidents.
The worst accident during the year involved a My Cargo Airlines Boeing 747 freighter that crashed into houses just outside Manas International airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 16 January, killing the four crew on board and 35 people on the ground.
In total, including accidents during cargo operations and other flights, there were nine fatal accidents in 2017, resulting in a total of 39 passenger and crew deaths.
The overall fatal accident rate in 2017 is estimated at one per 4.83 million flights. On this basis, 2017 is not actually the "safest year ever", being beaten to that title by 2015, when there were only eight fatal accidents, giving a fatal accident rate of one per 4.9 million flights that year.
However, 2017 can be described the safest year ever by far from the more restrictive point of view of fatalities suffered by revenue passengers. As noted, above there were only five revenue passenger fatalities in 2017, which gives a meaningless accident rate of one passenger fatality per 900 million carried. With so few fatal accidents and fatalities in any one year now, annual numbers are of little value and a better guide might be the five-year moving average. The passenger fatality rate for the five years to the end of 2017 was one per 23.8 million carried.
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.
Download the 2017 Airline Safety & Losses Annual Report here
Source: Cirium Dashboard