2014 'safest year' for air travel despite MAS tragedies
LAST year was by some measures the safest in the history of commercial aviation, despite two high-profile crashes involving Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft in which hundreds of people were killed, a leading industry body said yesterday.
While more people died in air accidents last year than the average in recent years, the number of fatal accidents compared with the total number of flights was a record low, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
"While aviation safety was in the headlines last year, the data show that flying continues to improve its safety performance," said Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and chief executive.
IATA, which represents about 250 airlines, said in an annual safety report that there were 12 fatal accidents last year with 641 fatalities, versus 19 fatal accidents and 517 fatalities per year in the five-year period between 2009 and 2013.
That translated into an accident rate, measured in "hull losses" per one million flights, of 0.23, or the equivalent of one for every 4.4 million flights. The 2013 rate was 0.41 and the five-year average rate, 0.58.
IATA's statistics for last year did not include the loss of MAS Flight MH17, which was shot down by a surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile in Ukraine in June and, so, not classified as an accident.
"To the flying public, an air tragedy is an air tragedy, regardless of how it is classified," said Mr Tyler. "Last year, we saw a reduction in the number of fatal accidents - and that would be true even if we were to include MH17 in the total."
The other high-profile event of last year was the disappearance of MAS Flight MH370.