Over the next three-and-a-half hours, worldwide, more fatalities will be added to the grim toll of road traffic accidents than occurred on the global commercial passenger airline network during 2018.

In light of that statistic – drawn from the World Health Organization’s latest road safety analysis – to talk about a deterioration last year in air transport safety seems ­almost churlish, not least because the past 12 months were held up against a remarkably uneventful 2017.

Several of the fatal accidents that occurred last year are still under investigation, but preliminary information indicates none of the root causes will be a revelation – just inadequate knowledge, poor discipline, or bad decisions, probably made under trying circumstances.

None of this should detract from the fact that the ­fatality rate for air transport remains at a level the automotive sector seems barely able to imagine, let alone start to replicate.

“Road traffic crashes are not ‘accidents’”, writes WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “They are completely preventable.”

That sentiment holds equally true for commercial aviation. The ugly spike on the charts for 2018 disguises not just the impressive overall safety achievement, but the fact that regions such as Europe and North America have shown a zero-accident rate is not a distant ideal but an attainable reality.

Source: Flight International