Accident rate just one in five million
With two high-profile disasters resulting in 374 deaths, one could easily assume that 2015 was amongst the deadliest in aviation history. Think again. The crashes of a Germanwings A320 in March, deliberately caused by the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, and a Metrojet A321 in October, due to a suspected bomb, account for the vast majority of the year’s aviation fatalities. According to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), there were 14 other fatal crashes in 2015, resulting in 186 deaths, making a total of 560. Aside from the two deliberate crashes, it would have been aviation’s least deadly year since ASN's records began. In fact, when the number of accidents resulting in fatalities are totaled, 2015 was the safest ever year for flying.
According to Flightglobal, another aviation industry analyst, the accident rate was one in 5 million flights during 2015, the lowest figure on record. "For the first time last year, not a single passenger fatality was recorded on a Western-built jet, excluding those from suspected acts of violence. This was achieved against the background of the global Western jet fleet’s transporting 3.7 billion travellers and conducting 32 million flights," it said in a recent report.
Surprisingly, the deadliest year in aviation history was way back in 1972, with 72 fatal accidents resulting in 2,370 fatalities. There were 11 crashes that saw at least 100 perish, including four Aeroflot flights, and others involving Iberia, Sterling Airways, Alitalia, British European Airways, Interflug, Spantax and Eastern Air Lines. The fourth deadliest year was 1974, with 1,989 fatalities from 68 crashes (eight involving Aeroflot). It should be noted that safety standards have improved drastically at the Russian airline since - it hasn't been involved in a fatal accident since 1996.