2017 marks safest year on record for commercial passenger air travel — and Trump takes the credit

Planes are being prepared for customer approval in the delivery ramp at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Randall Hill | Reuters
Planes are being prepared for customer approval in the delivery ramp at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Airlines recorded zero accident deaths in commercial passenger jets last year, according to a Dutch consulting firm and an aviation safety group that tracks crashes, making 2017 the safest year on record for commercial air travel.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to take his share of the credit, saying that "since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation."

The president did not refer to a specific policy in his post, though his administration implemented new screening procedures for U.S.-bound flyers in October. The Department of Homeland Security had previously ordered nine airlines to ban carry-on electronic devices that were larger than a cell phone.

"Last year, the president announced his initiative to modernize Air Traffic Control and under his leadership, the Department of Homeland Security released enhanced security measures to ensure safer commercial air travel," Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah told NBC News. "The president is pleased there were no commercial airline deaths in 2017, and hopes this remains consistent in 2018 and beyond."

Multiple aviation sources told NBC News that increased flight safety is the result of decades of work from regulators including the FAA. The aviation sources also cited the work of airlines and plane manufacturers to reduce accidents.

Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network both reported Monday there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017. "2017 was the safest year for aviation ever," said Adrian Young of To70.

To70 estimated that the fatal accident rate for large commercial passenger flights is 0.06 per million flights, or one fatal accident for every 16 million flights.

The Aviation Safety Network also reported there were no commercial passenger jet deaths in 2017, but 10 fatal airliner accidents resulting in 44 fatalities onboard and 35 persons on the ground, including cargo planes and commercial passenger turboprop aircraft.

That figure includes 12 people killed on Dec. 31 when a Nature Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff into a mountainous area off the beach town of Punta Islita, Costa Rica.

In comparison, there were 16 accidents and 303 deaths in 2016 among airliners.

The deadliest incident last year occurred in January when a Turkish cargo jet smashed into a village in Kyrgyzstan as it tried to land at a nearby airport in dense fog, killing 35 on the ground and all four onboard.

The Aviation Safety Network said 2017 was "the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities."

Over the last two decades aviation deaths around the world have been steadily falling. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, the Aviation Safety Network said.

The United States last recorded a fatal airline passenger jet crash in February 2009, when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed short of the runway in Clarence Center, New York, killing 49 onboard and one person on the ground.

In 2016, 412 people were killed in the United States in aviation accidents — nearly all in general aviation accidents and none on commercial passenger airlines.

The last fatal passenger jet airliner accident worldwide took place in November 2016 near Medellin, Colombia and the last commercial passenger aircraft crash to kill more than 100 people occurred in October 2015 in Egypt.

CNBC and NBCNews contributed to this report.