US Report: 2012 Was Safest Year in Aviation since 1945

Plane crashes will always be big news, but the reality is that air travel is still extremely safe. And it’s been getting safer, with 2012 reportedly being the safest since 1945, according to accident researcher Aviation Safety Network. There were 23 deadly accidents last year with 475 fatalities and this Tuesday marked a four year anniversary since the last fatal crash in the USA.

The number of fatalities of 2012 represents less than half of the 2000 death toll of 1,147 when there were 42 crashes. This has put the death risk for US passengers at one in 45 million flights, Arnold Barnett, professor of statistics at MIT told the New York Times. Today’s state of air travel safety translates into a tourist flying every day for about 123,000 years without before being involved in a fatal crash. 

The increased safety is the result of more reliable planes and engines supported by advanced navigation and warning technology which together prevent most of past accidents. Moreover, regulators, pilots and airlines all share a detailed information on flying hazards, focusing on preventing accidents, not on managing the crises they generate. Passengers are also more likely to survive in the eventuality of a crash.


“The lessons of accidents used to be written in blood, where you had to have an accident, and you had to kill people to change procedures, or policy, or training,” said Deborah Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “That’s not the case anymore. We have a much more proactive approach to safety.”

Another important anniversary for US aviation is that there hasn’t been an accident involving a major US carrier since November 2001, when an American Airlines flight to the Dominican Republic crashed in Queens shortly after takeoff.

While the data shows flying has become safer, risks are still very real and they might become more of an issue as air traffic grows as forecast over the next decade. Currently, two million US passengers board over 30,000 flights everyday, while near-misses on runaways and taxiways have increased.

What do you think? Are the statistics reassuring? Do you perceive air travel as safest, or does the aftermath of fatal crashes alter the image you have of this means of transport?

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