Report: Airline Safety Down In 2010

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The fatal accident rate for jet and turboprop aircraft rose 22 percent last year, according to Ascend, a London-based aviation consulting firm, but longer-term trends are positive. Four accidents, none attributed to U.S. carriers, accounted for 65 percent of total passenger fatalities, according to Ascend. They included an Air India crash at Mangalore, in May; an Airblue accident at Islamabad, in July; an Afriquiyah crash at Tripoli, in May; and an Ethiopian Airlines crash at Beirut, in January. Looking at trends, Ascend states that decade over decade, the 1990s saw an average of ten more accidents per year than did the 2000s. "We believe that air safety is still improving," the group stated. While nearly 8000 passengers and crew were killed in airline accidents over the past decade, the prior decade saw 11,280 deaths. Numbers from the NTSB and specific to the U.S. aren't yet available for 2010, but, in context, the figures are noteworthy.

From 1990 to 2009 (the last year of the chart is preliminary data), the fatal accident rate per 100,000 flight hours for scheduled U.S. air carriers never exceeded 0.051. In 2009, the number was 0.01. The NTSB's numbers for 2002, 2007 and 2008 include zero fatal accidents for 16.7, 19 and 18.5 million flight hours, respectively. For U.S. carriers, total onboard fatalities for the period 1990 to 2009, which includes terrorist acts (not included in accident rate statistics), was 1,601 (check our math) for more than 311 million flight hours.