Lessons to take from 2019 regarding aviation safety
Despite the heavily mediatized crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX, 2019 proved a relatively safe year for commercial aviation. Dutch consulting firm To70 said total fatalities dropped by more than half compared to the previous year. But behind the encouraging data lay some crucial lessons for the future.
Only 257 people were killed in commercial aviation accidents in 2019 against 534 the previous year. The number of occurrences also dropped significantly with only 86 accidents, out of which 8 proved fatal, for 160 accidents and 13 fatal ones in 2018. The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX caused the deaths of 157 people and was thus responsible for more than half of the fatalities in 2019.
The last fatal crash of 2019 occurred on December 27, 2019, when a Fokker 100 of the Kazakh airline Bek Air crashed into a building during takeoff from Almaty airport. 11 passengers and 1 crew member were killed among the 101 occupants. The aircraft lost altitude very quickly after takeoff and hit a fence, before crashing into a two-story residential house.
To70 notes that while this year, attention was given to future’s potential threats such as drones, the MAX crisis was an alarming event that should remind the industry to “focus on the basics that make civil aviation so safe: well-designed and well-built aircraft flown by fully informed and well-trained crews.”
Despite the Boeing scandal, which was thoroughly reported by the media, 2019 remains the third safest year in terms of fatalities since the democratization of commercial aviation, coming behind 2017 and 2013. According to the International Air Transport Association’s data, during the first half of 2019, the all-accident rate (which accounts for substantial damage and hull loss accidents for jet aircraft and turboprops measured per one million flights) throughout the industry was 0.91, an improvement from the 1.43 recorded in the same period in 2018.