Global fatalities from commercial flying fell more than 50% in 2019

Key Points
  • The number of global deaths from large aircaft crashes in 2019 halved from the previous year.
  • The Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia accounted for more than half of all of the deaths.
  • U.S. National Safety Council puts the odds of a typical American dying from an air incident at one in 9,821.
Rescuers work beside the wreckage of an Ethiopian Airlines' aircraft at the crash site, some 50 km east of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
Wang Shoubao | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

The number of people killed in commercial airplane crashes more than halved in 2019 from the previous year, according to one study by aviation consultants.

Last year, 257 fatalities were recorded involving larger aircraft crashes. This compared to 534 in 2018, according to Dutch aviation analysts To70.

In 2019, there were 86 recorded accidents around the world, eight of which were fatal. The most deaths in one incident was when a Boeing 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia on March 10 causing loss of life to 157 people.

To70 said it factored a 4.2% growth in air traffic for 2019 over 2018 to then calculate that, across 2019, large airplanes in commercial air transport averaged one fatal accident every 5.58 million flights.

The U.S. National Safety Council puts the odds of a typical American dying from a motor vehicle crash at one in 114, while an air incident is much rarer at one in 9,821.

Rare events

Other than the Ethiopian Airlines crash, there were four other incidents in 2019 that caused the loss of life of more than 10 people.

These included a Douglas DC-3 LASER crash in March in Colombia which saw 14 people die, a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash in May which caused 41 deaths and the November crash of a Busy Bee Dornier plane in the Congo which killed 19 on board and 10 people on the ground.

The fifth and final incident of 2019 that killed more than 10 people was the Kazakhstan crash of a Fokker 100 plane in which 12 people died.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Max incident followed the October 2018 Lion Air crash of another 737 Max which caused 189 deaths. The plane model remains subject to a worldwide grounding.

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