'First World' Airlines Fatality-Free

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Although there were some remarkably close calls (including the engine explosion in a Qantas A380), 2010 passed without a single fatality caused by a crash involving a passenger-carrying airliner based in what MIT considers "developed" countries. "In the entire First World, fatal crashes are at the brink of extinction," Arnold Barnett, a professor who specializes in air crash statistics at the prestigious school, told USA Today. For the U.S., 2010 was the third fatality-free year out of four. The streak was broken by the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo in early 2009 that killed all 49 people on board and a person on the ground. The Independent Pilots Association took issue with the USA Today story, noting that two UPS pilots died in the crash of their Boeing 747-400 in Dubai in September. They were the only ones on the cargo flight but UPS operates under Part 121 and is the eighth largest airline in the U.S. It's also not clear by what criteria the appointment of "First World" countries is judged or what constitutes an airline flight but one of the worst crashes in 2010 happened in Russia when a plane carrying Poland's president and his entourage went down in bad weather while trying to land at Smolensk.

The crash of that aircraft, which was probably more accurately described as a military or government flight, killed Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 others and has resulted in a diplomatic tiff between the two countries over the alleged cause of the crash. The Russians say a drunk Polish military commander was on the flight deck and pressured the crew into trying to land in unflyable conditions. The Poles say Russian controllers are to blame. Regardless, airline carnage continued unabated in the so-called developing world, with fatal crashes throughout Africa, Asia and South America.