Statistics show there were a total of 15 fatal air accidents in 2018 resulting in 556 deaths compared to just 44 in 2017, but it was one of the safest years on record.
Data gathered by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN) show that despite being the third-safest year for commercial aviation in terms of the number of fatal accidents, 2018 was worse than the five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities.
The figures were influenced by a number of high-profile accidents, including the Lion Air crash in Jakarta that killed 189 people, an incident in Cuba in which 112 died, an accident in Iran’s Zagros mountains that killed 66 and a crash at Nepal’s Kathmandu airport in March in which 51 people died.
In the case of the Lion Air flight, it was later deemed that the new B737 Max was not airworthy because technical faults with the aircraft had been reported on previous flights. Victims’ families have filed a lawsuit against Boeing, alleging there were flaws in the jet’s design, which includes an automated system to keep the plane from stalling if its nose is pointed upwards at too high an angle.
A total of 12 of the recorded accidents involved passenger flights, while three were cargo operations. Three out of the 15 aircraft that crashed were operated by airlines that were ‘blacklisted’ by the European Union – up by two compared to 2017.
With the estimated worldwide air traffic of around 37,800,000 flights in 2018, the ASN says its figures mean there was one fatal accident per 2,520,000 flights.
The ASN says it is clear that loss of control accidents are a “major safety concern”, with this type responsible for at least ten of the 25 worst incidents over the last five years.
CEO Harro Ranter commented: “If the accident rate had remained the same as ten years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year. At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been 64 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”