The number of people killed in commercial airplane crashes fell by more than 50% in 2019, according to Reuters.
Netherlands-based aviation consulting firm To70 said in a report released on January 1st that there were 86 accidents involving large commercial planes - including eight fatal incidents - resulting in 257 fatalities last year. In 2018, there were 160 accidents, including 13 fatal ones, resulting in 534 deaths, the firm said.
The 157 people killed in March on a high-profile Boeing 737 MAX Ethiopian Airlines crash accounted for more than half of all passenger airline deaths last year.
To70 said the fatal accident rate for large airplanes in commercial passenger air transport was just 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019, or an average of one fatal accident every 5.58 million flights, a significant improvement over 2018.
Accidents involving small commuter airplanes, including the Cessna Caravan and other light turboprop airplanes, helicopters and private planes were excluded from the survey.
Over the last two decades, aviation deaths around the world have been falling dramatically despite a steep rise in the number of passenger journeys. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, the Aviation Safety Network said.
The safest year for aviation on record worldwide was in 2017, with only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops that resulted in 13 deaths and no fatal crashes of passenger jets.
To70 said the aviation industry spent significant efforts in 2019 "focusing on so-called 'future threats' such as drones." However, the recent MAX crashes "are a reminder that we need to retain our focus on the basics that make civil aviation so safe: well-designed and well-built aircraft flown by fully informed and well-trained crews."