According to the Aviation Safety Network, an independent database in the Netherlands, there were 23 fatal airliner accidents during 2012, with some 475 people killed as a result. That compares with a ten-year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities—making 2012 the safest year for air travel since 1945.
For that, passengers can thank the expertise that goes into the assembly, equipment and inspection of aircraft produced by the likes of Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer. Western-built jets and turbo-prop planes account for around 95% and 80% of global passenger fleets respectively. Of last year’s 23 fatal accidents, only three involved Western-built jets.
Apart from better instruments, more rigorous maintenance and improved training, there are other reasons for this huge improvement in aviation safety. One is the voluntary reporting arrangement that encourages flight crew and maintenance staff to pass along, without fear of recrimination, details of mistakes that could affect a plane’s safety.
That last bit is disturbing. Does it mean that before, people were afraid of reporting mistakes that could so harshly cost lives?