A new study has revealed that air travel is getting safer, with results outlining that 2019 was one of the most secure in history, while the last decade as a whole was also the best for passenger safety since the start of the jet age.

A man watches a plane take off at the airport
2019 was one of the safest years in the history of air travel © YakobchukOlena / Getty Images

Released by aviation consultants To70, the Civil Aviation Safety Review 2019 examined accidents to large passenger aircraft, including all causes such as human error, unlawful interference and technical failures. 

The study revealed that despite high profile accidents that sparked international attention such as the Boeing 737 Max crash that killed 157 in Ethiopia, this year’s fatal accident rate was actually lower than the average of the last five years. 2019 had a total of 86 accidents, eight of which were fatal and resulted in 257 deaths. This follows a historic low in 2017 with only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprop planes that resulted in the loss of 13 lives.

“An estimated 4.2% growth in air traffic for 2019 over 2018 means that the fatal accident rate for large aeroplanes in commercial air transport is just 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights. That is an average of one fatal accident every 5.58 million flights,” Adrian Young, author of the study revealed. 

plane window
The report also outlined sections of the air travel industry that can be improved and worked on for the future © Tommaso Tuzj / Getty Images

“The headline figures for the accidents shows that fatal airline accidents are very rare and that in most cases  – the 737 MAX accident to Ethiopian is an exception – most passengers will survive a fatal accident. The downward trend in fatal accidents to large passenger planes has been constant year on year with the exception of 2017 to 2018. The fatal accident figures are now so low that the focus in aviation safety work is to look at the smaller, less serious, incidents that serve as precursors to accidents,” Adrian told Lonely Planet. 

While the study may prove comforting to nervous flyers, it also outlines the need for transparency, checks and further training connected with new aircraft and products in order to avoid accidents such as the two Boeing 737 Max tragedies. 

The full study is available at the official To70 website.

Read more: Boeing to suspend 737 Max production in January

Explore related stories

Dominical, Costa Rica - An aerial view of a car driving along a dirt road surrounded by water on either side.  © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Destination Practicalities

Getting around in Costa Rica

Jul 3, 2024 • 6 min read