Safety in 2016: accidents dwarfed by traffic numbers

multiple flight contrails
Fatal accidents were a tiny fraction of the 35 million flights in 2016

Last year was among the safest in the history of air transport. The Aviation Safety Network tallied 325 deaths in 19 air transport accidents. This is in the context of 3.7 billion airline passengers and 35 million departures last year, according to figures issued yesterday by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The year’s most deadly crash of a civil aircraft was LaMia flight 2933, which crashed in Colombia on November 28. An official report issued on 30 December confirmed that the chartered jet crashed, killing 71 people, after running out of fuel. There were two other crashes of jet airliners—FlyDubai flight 981, on 19 March, in which 62 died; and EgyptAir flight 804, on 19 May, in which 66 people died. Seven crew of cargo jets died in two crashes—one was a Bombardier CRJ200 that crashed in Sweden on 8 January killing two; the other was a Boeing 727 that crashed in Colombia on 20 December killing five. The most deadly crash of a turboprop was the loss of Pakistan International Airlines flight 661 on 7 December, which killed 47 people. The crash of a Russian Tupolev 154 on 25 December that killed 92 people was not counted, as it was a military aircraft.

The Aviation Safety Network’s list includes revenue flights by Cessna Caravan single engine turboprops, on which 18 people died in five crashes. Its death count includes the solitary hijacker who killed himself, but no-one else, after detonating a bomb on Daallo Airlines flight 159 in February just after take-off from Mogadishu.

A search of Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s database shows 20 deaths in Australia in 13 accidents in general and sport aviation during 2016. The most deadly general aviation crash killed four people in a Piper PA-28 Cherokee near Barwon Heads, Victoria on 29 January.