Plane crash deaths down 50% in 2019 but number of accidents rise

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By Alice Tidey
Plane crash deaths down 50% in 2019 but number of accidents rise
Copyright  Pexel

The number of people killed in commercial aeroplane crashes more than halved year-on-year in 2019 despite an increase in accidents, statistics from the Aviation Safety Network reveal.

Data released on Wednesday revealed that 267 people lost their lives in crashes last year, down from 542 in 2018.

The number of accidents, however, has risen to 14 from 11.

Over half of the deaths were the result of the Ethiopian Airline crash in which 157 passenger and crew members were killed in March.

When taking cargo flights into consideration, there were a total of 283 fatalities in 20 crashes — down from 555 deaths spread across 14 accidents in 2018.

This makes 2019 the third safest year in terms of fatalities since records began in 1946 after 2017 and 2013 when 44 and 256 fatalities were recorded respectively.

But in terms of accidents, last year actually had "a markedly higher number" than the five-year average of 14. With an estimated 39,000 flights operating every day, the accident rate was calculated at one accident per two million flights.

"If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 34 fatal accidents last year. At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been 65 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades," Aviation Safety Network's CEO Harro Ranter said in a statement.

The website, which tracks aviation incidents, accidents and hijackings, found that 11 — more than half — of the accidents had occurred in Noth America, a sharp increase from the two previous years when just one and three were recorded respectively. Five of those accidents took place in "rugged parts of Canada and Alaska".

No deadly accident was recorded in the European Union, although three did occur on European soil including two Russian passenger flights and a Ukrainian cargo flight in which a total of 47 people were killed.