The year 2017 was the safest in aviation history with 44 people killed in 10 plane crashes. On the surface it seems 2018 was staggeringly worse, with 556 people killed in 15 fatal accidents, according to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN). However, despite the grim statistics, ASN says 2018 is still one of the safest years for commercial aviation on record, with a rate of about one fatality for every three million flights.
Of the aviation accidents reported in 2017 and 2018, 12 involved passenger flights and three involved cargo flights. Three of the planes were operated by airlines that have been banned by the European Union for failing to meet regulatory oversight standards.
“If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 year ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year,” says ASN Chief Executive Harro Ranter, adding that had the rate stayed the same as the year 2000, there would have been 64 fatal accidents. “This shows enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”
The deadliest single incident in 2018 was the Lion Air Flight 610 crash off the coast of Indonesia in October, during which 189 people died. The aircraft was a new Boeing 737 Max 8, and, like other Boeing 737s, had an alleged design defect that allowed misinformation to direct flight sensors to send the plane into a nosedive that the pilots tried but could not pull out of.
ASN cites “loss of control” accidents as a “major safety concern,” contributing to about 40 percent of the worst accidents in the past five years.