Global airline passenger fatalities decline sharply

Airline passenger fatalities around the globe has declined sharply over the past decade as new research has revealed that the fatalities rate is now one death per 7.9 million passenger boardings, compared to one death per 2.7 million boardings during the period 1998-2007, and one death per 1.3 million boardings during 1988-1997.

The commercial airline fatality risk was one death per 750,000 boardings during 1978-1987, and one death per 350,000 boardings during 1968-1977, said the study published in the journal Transportation Science.

“The worldwide risk of being killed had been dropping by a factor of two every decade,” said study author Arnold Barnett, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

“Not only has that continued in the last decade, the (latest) improvement is closer to a factor of three. The pace of improvement has not slackened at all even as flying has gotten ever safer and further gains become harder to achieve,” Barnett said.

The new research also revealed that there is discernible regional variation in airline safety around the world. Nations housing the lowest-risk airlines are the U.S., the members of the European Union, China, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel, showed the results.

The aggregate fatality risk among those nations was one death per 33.1 million passenger boardings during 2008-2017.

For airlines in a second set of countries, which Barnett terms the “advancing” set with an intermediate risk level, the rate is one death per 7.4 million boardings during 2008-2017.

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