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Fatalities in commercial aviation increased in 2020

TRAVEL NEWS – January 05, 2021: New research has shown that more fatalities were caused by accidents in commercial aviation last year. This news comes despite the fact that the number of flights is plummeting as a result of the pandemic.

Also read: IATA Unveils Mobile Travel Pass With Vaccine Information | ePassport

All deaths in 2020

The Dutch aviation consultancy To70 found that 299 people died in commercial accidents last year, compared to 257 in 2019. Tracking site Flightradar 24 reported commercial flights were down 42 percent last year.

According to an Verkaring of To70, the figures include all deaths from accidents involving large passenger aircraft – including illegal acts, such as shooting down aircraft.

Shooting down commercial planes

The 2020 figures include the shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines flight by Iranian forces last January. And bizarre event similar to that of Malaysia Airlines, flight MH17, which was shot down in Ukraine in 2014 by a Russian bomber missile.

However, Iran has admitted to making a mistake and plans to donate $150.000 to the families of each of the 176 people killed – more than half of all plane crash deaths last year.

It also includes the deaths of 98 people in May when a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight crashed in the city of Karachi. An initial report blamed "human error" for the accident.

Number of plane accidents decreased

To70 found that the number of aircraft accidents has fallen sharply to 40 in 2020, compared to 86 in 2019. Only five of those 40 aviation accidents were fatal.

“While the accident rate for 2020 remains low, the circumstances surrounding a number of accidents are cause for concern,” said To70.

“Three of the five fatal accidents in 2020 and some of the non-fatal accidents involve aircraft that have left the paved surface of the runway.

“Following the trend of other runway excursions, these events were contributed by events leading up to the final approach and landing.

“The Turkish accident in February and the Indian accident in August both took place during heavy rain.

“The latter also reportedly landed with a strong tailwind.

“The accident in Pakistan in May followed an initial hard landing and go-around that appears to have damaged the engines, resulting in the undershoot on the next approach.”

Air travel still the safest

The fatal accident rate for large aircraft in commercial air transport is 0,27 fatal accidents per million flights. That equates to one fatality per 3,7 million flights. This is in stark contrast to driving, where 3.700 people respectively per day die as a result of traffic accidents. The global average death rate from driving in 2018 has been calculated at 18,2 deaths per 100.000 inhabitants per year. Aviation is therefore and remains by far the safest mode of travel, anywhere in the world.

Also read: Five expert tips for a good night's sleep on the plane

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