Every time there’s a crash of a commercial passenger aircraft, my friends bombard me with questions about which planes are the safest to fly. The first thing I do is tell them how safe commercial aviation travel really is.
Given the expected worldwide air traffic of 33,000,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 4,125,000 flights, according to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN).
But hearing air safety quotes doesn’t make people feel better when they see details of a plane crash blasted across television and the Internet.
According to data from Ascend London insurance consultancy , the safest aircraft in the world in 2015 was the Boeing 737 with CFMI engines, at one crash per 4.8 million flying hours. The other nine aircraft are: Boeing 757; Airbus A320; Boeing 767; Boeing 737NG; Boeing 747; Airbus A330; Airbus A340; and Boeing 777. The numbers do not include aircraft connected with terrorist acts.
Statistics compiled by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that the 2015 global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per one million flights) was 0.32, the equivalent of one major accident for every 3.1 million flights.
It wasn't as good as the rate of 0.27 achieved in 2014, but it was a 30 percent improvement compared to the previous five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.46 hull loss accidents per million jet flights.
In 2015, there were four accidents -- all with turboprop aircraft -- that resulted in 136 passenger fatalities.
The 2015 jet hull loss rate for IATA members was 0.22 (one accident for every 4.5 million flights), which outperformed the global rate by 31 percent, in line with the five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.21 per million flights but above the 0.12 hull loss rate achieved in 2014.
The loss of Germanwings Flight 9525 (pilot suicide) and Metrojet Flight 9268 (suspected terrorism) that resulted in the deaths of 374 passengers and crew are tragedies that occurred in 2015. They are not, however, included in the accident statistics as they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference.
Looking at the safest airlines in 2015, Australia’s Qantas was the safest for the third year in a row, having a fatality free record in the jet era, according to AirlineRatings.com. Rounding out the top 10 in alphabetical order are: Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air and Finnair.
AirlineRatings.com uses a number of factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations, as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record. The site's editorial team also examined each airline’s operational history, incident records and operational excellence to determine its list. Questions asked include:
- Is the airline IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certified?
- Is the airline on the European Union (EU) Blacklist?
- Has the airline maintained a fatality free record for the past 10 years?
- Is the airline FAA (America's Federal Aviation Administration) endorsed?
- Does the country of airline origin meet all 8 ICAO safety parameters?
- Has the airline's fleet been grounded by the country's governing aviation safety authority due to safety concerns?
- Does the airline operate only Russian built aircraft?
Despite fatal airline crashes in 2015, air travel is still by far the safest mode of travel. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, fatalities by transportation mode, from most to least safe were: large U.S. air carrier, commuter air carrier, on-demand air taxi, general aviation, railroad, recreational boating and highway.
With more than 30,000 flights a day taking off and landing, the odds of you experiencing an air crash are pretty slim.
So book that flight and enjoy your travel.