Despite more flights than ever before, exceeding 100,000 flights per day worldwide, 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial air travel. Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 estimates the fatal accident rate for large commercial passenger flights is now just 1 in 16,000,000 flights.

While there were no deaths on commercial airline jets, 2017 saw 10 fatal air accidents killing 79 people on board or on the ground in cargo or commercial passenger turboprop airplanes. This compares to 16 accidents and 303 deaths recorded in 2016, which is a huge improvement!

In as recent as 2005, there were over 1,000 deaths attributed to commercial air travel in the world. Why has there been such a dramatic decrease in death and injury aboard flights? The answer lies in safety improvements and changing regulations.

Protocol, Training, Regulations Followed to the “T”

There is no doubt safe commercial air travel relies with the abilities of those in the cockpit. After a fatal airliner crash attributed to fatigued pilots killed 50 people in New York in 2009, President Obama signed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, into law. Qualification requirements to become a pilot of US airline carriers became stricter. This lower supply of qualified pilots lead to higher wages and better treatment by airline companies. Fatalities on US based commercial jets reached into triple digits in years prior to 2010, since then there have been NONE.

Pilots are not the only ones improving their skills to get us to our destinations safely. Flight attendant training has evolved to ensure efficiency in evacuations and handling problem passengers reflecting the unique, real life situations. In late 2016, Korean Air began training for stun gun usage after an unruly passenger assaulted multiple passengers and crew members.

Many US airline mechanics have the ability to ground an aircraft at any time if they feel the plane is unsafe in any way and cannot be reprimanded by their employer. Improved data collection and testing allows mechanics to know the lifetime and status of an aircraft part and often replace them long before any wear shows.

Passenger Safety Is in Their Own Hands (For Real)

Air safety expert Adrian Young says, ‘It is unlikely that this historic low will be maintained’ and warns of risk of electronic devices causing in-flight fires. If you flew on an airliner in 2016 you may have heard a new safety warning, “please power down your Samsung Galaxy phones” after reports of batteries exploding started popping up around the world. The Department of Transportation eventually banned the problematic phones later that year. The rising use of lithium-ion batteries in our electronics is the biggest concern to air safety. We recommend you read up on what the Federal Aviation Administration has to say about electronic and battery restrictions aboard airlines before you arrive at the airport.

A Trend Years in the Making

It is outstanding that commercial jet aviation flew more than 4 billion people around the world without fatalities in 2017. President Trump declares he is very strict on commercial aviation tweeting, “…it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!” Retired airline captain and safety consultant, John Cox, says this trend has been under way for decades, “One of the ways that we have become so safe was to realize that our efforts were never going to be good enough. The ever-rising expectations forced the industry to adopt new technologies, training methods and to improve human performance.”

Making Travel Safety a Personal Priority

It’s great to see statistics supporting protective policy for safe travel. Policy simply hasn’t kept pace with globalization for most of a century since the first commercial airline passenger flights in the early 1900’s.  

It’s why your personal safety traveling abroad must be your top priority. We’re here to help with Travel HEROES Safety Certification so you know how to avoid risks, get help and home safely wherever your commercial flight takes you.  In about an hour, you’ll build skills and a personal travel safety plan so you can always Depart Smart! We are the only nonprofit doing this work so you can travel in lifesaving ways.

Safe Journeys!