Given all the hoopla, or perhaps due to it, flying is responsible for fewer deaths than driving accidents and disease.
Flying has become safer than ever for most western travellers, with figures showing that 2012 had the lowest accident rate on record for typical passenger planes.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has confirmed that last year’s global accident rate for western-built passenger jets was the lowest in aviation history, with just three fatal crashes on such planes – and none among any of its 240 members, who represent virtually all of the major airlines.
Globally, the crash rate for modern aircraft – defined by IATA as hull losses per million flights of western-built jets – was one accident every 5m flights.
There were six crashes and 75 accidents overall on all aircraft types worldwide, as flying accounted for 414 deaths, compared to 486 from 92 accidents in 2011, from a total of almost 3 billion passengers.
Flying in sub-Saharan Africa, however, remains considerably more of a risk – and the accident rate is worsening. A passenger on a western-built jet in Africa was roughly 10 times more likely to see the plane crash in 2012 than in Latin America, the next most dangerous region.
IATA’s director general, Tony Tyler, said: “The industry’s 2012 record safety performance was the best in history. Each day approximately 100,000 flights arrive safely at their destination. Nevertheless, there is still work to do. Every accident is one too many and each fatality is a human tragedy.”
Planes coming off the runway are the most common type of accident, accounting for 28% of all incidents. Pilots losing control in flight have caused the most fatalities in the past four years.
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Photo credit: Passengers board Austrian Airways at Frankfurt Airport for a flight to Salzburg. Fam Dax / Flickr