Despite a tragic plane crash over the weekend in Russia that left five crew members dead, air travel this year was the safest since the 1960s, when commercial jet service was just taking off.
This year there were 23 fatal crashes involving passenger and cargo planes, according to the Aviation Safety Network, resulting 475 fatalities -- only 10 were passenger aircrafts. That's down from 28 fatal crashes in 2011 and an average the past decade of 34. Wall Street Journal reports:
"Overall, it was the certainly the safest year ever," according to Paul Hayes, director of safety at Ascend. With one fatal accident per 2.5 million flights world-wide, this year "was almost twice as safe as 2011, which itself had previously" attained that distinction, according to Ascend.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't safety issues for airlines to address, especially in the developing world.
But such improvements also underscore persistent safety problems that mean significantly higher crash rates—often by a factor of four or more—across much of Africa, Latin America and other developing regions. And even in the U.S., safety experts warn of potential dangers from pilots becoming confused by cockpit automation and increasing ground-collision hazards posed by congested airports.
Still, the numbers are impressive especially as 2.9 billion people took to the air this year. But it will be even more important in the coming years to improve safety in developing countries as the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa were the regions with the largest passenger growth rate in 2012, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Worldwide, the number of airline passengers is expected to double, to 6 billion by 2030.
Flying Is Safest Since Dawn of Jet Age [Wall Street Journal]