It goes without saying that planes are among the safest form of transport out there, and you should always feel safe when flying. As 2018 comes to a close, it’s interesting to look back at how 2018 compared to other years when it comes to safety.
2017 was the safest year on record for commercial aviation. In 2017 there were only a total of 59 casualties across 14 accidents.
It’s worth noting that in 2017 there wasn’t a single commercial jet crash, though that doesn’t account for turboprops, for example (so that’s why Trump talked about how there were “zero deaths” in 2017, and how tough he has been on Commercial Aviation — speaking of which, I’ve Never understood his Random capitalization).
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Well, by comparison 2018 was a rough year for commercial aviation. As reported by Forbes and Aviation Safety Network, in 2018 there were a total of 555 aviation casualties, spread across 16 accidents. That’s an increase of over 900% in terms of the death toll from commercial aviation.
In fairness, 2018 was also the busiest ever year for air travel, with an estimated 4.5 billion passengers, so the odds are still in your favor.
Of the 2018 incidents, a vast majority of the deaths were from five incidents (ranked by number of casualties):
- On October 29, a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed, killing all 189 people
- On May 18, a Cubana de Aviacion 737-200 crashed, killing 112 people
- On February 11, a Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 crashed, killing 71 people
- On February 18, an Iran Aseman Airlines ATR72 crashed, killing 66 people
- On March 12, a US-Bangla Airlines Q400 crashed, killing 52 people
As you can see, those five incidents account for 490 deaths.
One other noteworthy incident in 2018 was that of Southwest Airlines 1380 on April 17. The Boeing 737-700 suffered an engine failure, causing one passenger to be ripped out of the plane. While that doesn’t represent as many casualties as some of the other flights, this is noteworthy because it’s the first fatality on a US airliner in nearly a decade.
So in the grand scheme of things, 555 fatalities across 4.5 billion passengers carried still represents a very safe form of transport. However, that’s still a lot of lives to lose.
2018 had the most aviation fatalities since 2014, and that can largely be attributed to the two Malaysia Airlines 777s that crashed that year.
Hopefully 2019 proves to be a safer year for aviation, more in line with 2017 than 2018.