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Commercial Air Travel Safety: 2017 Safest for Passengers

  • by: Adam Coath
  • On: 12, Jan 2018
4 min read

For commercial air travel safety, it has been revealed that 2017 was the safest year for passengers around the world.

Last year was a record breaking year for passengers travelling to more destinations than ever before; it was also, the safest year in history for commercial air travel.

Why Was 2017 The Safest Year For Commercial Flights?

A Dutch-based aviation consultancy (To70) has revealed that there were two plane crashes last year, one involving a small turbo-prop aircraft resulting in 13 lives lost; nevertheless, there were no passenger jets that crashed anywhere across the world.

Commercial Air Travel safety is improving; according to a lead researcher in aviation the chances of being involved in a fatal plane accident is now one in sixteen million. However, it’s argued that it’s incredibly difficult to maintain this historic low. 

In 2016, commercial air travel safety wasn’t as encouraging as 271 people lost their lives in seven fatal events. An airline involved in the one fatal event was Egyptair, another was LaMia, carrying a Brazilian football team which crashed in Columbia after running out of fuel. 

However, for the previous two years the death toll was significantly higher. In 2014 the tragic disappearance of MH370 (whose fate is still unknown) and the catastrophic crash of MH17 (which was struck by a missile over Ukraine) resulted in 864 deaths. Regarding commercial air travel safety, the UK has the best record of any major country. In 1989, 47 people died in a British Midland Boeing 737 crash, however since then there have been no other fatalities involving a British airline commercial jet. 

President Trump was quick to comment on the results revealed by To7o, claiming that he has been strict on commercial airline safety since entering the presidential office, and outlining the safety streak that has continued since the last fatal U.S. crash in 2009. One theory as to why 2017 has been a remarkable year for Aviation safety is that of Harro Ranter, the ASN President, who believes that “it’s the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Air Transport Association and the Flight Safety Foundation” that have made 2017 a great success. 

To70’s analysis examines accidents on large passenger aircrafts, discovering whether they are caused by human error, technical failure, or unlawful interference. However, now there is a shift in focus, questioning what additional measures have been taken over the past year to ensure commercial air travel safety?

The FAA adopted three major rules to improve on passenger safety:
  • Lengthened mandatory rest periods for passenger airline pilots.
  • Recurrent training for pilots, including about how to avoid stalls in flight.
  • Co-pilots must have the same 1,500 hours of flight experience like their captains.
Other Aviation safety experts said reducing the number of accidents in 2017 is a result of years of improvements in training, technology and management – a few advancements that have been made are:
  • Technology: air-traffic control to track planes with satellite-based GPS which is more accurate than ground-based radar, as well as better weather forecasts allowing pilots to avoid storms.
  • Airports: pavements have been engineered to crumble and halt a plane that veers off a runway.
  • Management: airlines are to identify risks and fix them before an accident occurs.
  • Research: recent efforts are focused on runway frictions - testing and data collection revealing how both rain and snow affects different types of planes.

Find out more about how what the UK is proposing in order to maintain air safety in post-Brexit Britain. 

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