Reports compiled by To70 and the Aviation Safety Network show that 2017 was ‘an exceptionally good year for civil aviation safety’. The report published by To70 stated that the last year was ‘much better than could reasonably (and statistically) be expected’ and was even better than 2016’s impressive results.
The Dutch consulting firm found that of all flights by larger passenger aircraft most commonly used by travellers, there were only two accidents that resulted in fatalities. This is an improvement on last year’s figures of six accidents resulting in fatalities in spite of an estimated three percent growth in air traffic.
The Aviation Safety Network takes a broader range of aircraft into account, including cargo planes. This report recognised 10 fatal accidents which resulted in a total of 79 fatalities. This is in comparison to 303 fatalities in 2016. The report calculated that ‘Given the worldwide air traffic of about 36,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights.’ Using To70’s criteria, the rate is 0.06 fatal accidents per million flights or one fatal accident per 16 million flights. Up to December 31, there was a record period of 398 days without a passenger jet airliner accident.
Adrian Young from To70 has warned that despite these impressive figures which show that “2017 was the safest year for aviation ever”, the industry continues to “carry large risks”. The report stated that ‘the extraordinarily low accident rate this year must be seen as a case of good fortune’ and it is unlikely to be maintained. Risks relating to aviation technology, such as issues around the 787 Dreamliner engines are highlighted as areas that need attention. Other dangers include an increase in electronic devices in passenger luggage which use lithium-ion batteries. If such batteries catch fire, they are particularly difficult to extinguish. Further risks highlighted include the mental health and fatigue levels of airline staff.
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