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Cars and Transportation

Third-safest year for flying

December 30, 2019

Germany's Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Center says only 293 people have died this year in air accidents. The crash of a Boeing 737 MAX jet in Ethiopia in March was responsible for half of all aviation fatalities.

A Lufthansa Airbus A380 jet
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/L. Rayton

The number of people killed in air crashes in 2019 nearly halved from the previous year, Germany's Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Center (JACDEC) revealed on Monday.

The Hamburg-based aviation security agency noted that there were 293 fatalities in aviation accidents, compared to 559 in 2018.

It said when measured by the number of victims, 2019 was the third-safest year for air travel since World War II. Only in 2013 and 2017 — where 40 fatalities were recorded — were fewer people killed.

"The sharp reduction in fatalities compared to 2018 is — at the risk of sounding macabre — due to the grounding of the 737 MAX in March," Jan-Arwed Richter, the head of JACDEC, said.

Read more: Qantas grounds Boeing 737s due to hairline cracks

If the plane had remained in service, there would have been "in all probability" another accident. 

Boeing's latest jet in two accidents

On March 10th, 157 people died aboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 when it crashed minutes after takeoff.

It was the second accident in less than six months involving Boeing's latest jetliner — the other, involving an aircraft belonging to Indonesia's Lion Air, killed 189 people.

Investigators have questioned the role of the planemaker's MCAS flight control system in both crashes.

On average, 484 people have died per year over the last 10 years, according to JACDEC figures, published by the aviation magazine Aero International. In the previous 10 years, the average was 876 per year, it said.

JACDEC counts aircraft with a weight of more than 5.7 tons (5,170 kilograms) or more than 19 seats in its analysis.

Read more: First commercial electric plane flight opens new era in aviation

Meanwhile, the German Aviation Association (BDL) noted there were no accidents in either German or European Union airspace this year.

BDL calculated that some 4.5 billion passengers were carried by commercial airlines affiliated with the International Air Transport Authorities (IATA) in 2019 — 14 times as many as in 1970.

The statistical probability of a plane crash has fallen over the past 50 years from 1 in 264,000 to 1 in 15,874,000, it added.

mm/rc (AFP, dpa)

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