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2019 Was One Of The Safest Years For Commercial Aviation: Study

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An aviation industry study has found that fatalities in crashes of large commercial planes in the year 2019 fell by more than 50 percent compared to the year ago. This was despite the high-profile Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia in March 2019 that killed all 157 people on board.

The fatal accident rate last year was also lower than the average of the last five years, the study noted.

According to Dutch aviation consultancy To70's annual Civil Aviation Safety Review, 86 accidents involving large commercial planes were recorded in 2019, of which 8 were fatal and resulted in 257 fatalities. This compares to 160 accidents in 2018, of which 13 were fatal and resulted in 534 fatalities.

The study also noted that the year 2017 recorded a historic low. There were only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops, out of 48 accidents that year, that resulted in 13 deaths.

Meanwhile, data released by the Aviation Safety Network, an accident tracking website, also showed that 2019 was one of the safest years ever for commercial aviation despite the Boeing 737 Max accident.

To70 data included all causes related to commercial aircraft accidents - technical failure, human error or unlawful interference.

The study noted that the fatal accident rate for 2019 was low despite an increase in air traffic.

While air traffic growth for 2019 was an estimated 4.2 percent, the fatal accident rate for large airplanes in commercial air transport was just 0.18 per million flights. This compares to 0.20 fatal accidents per million flights in 2018. The 2019 figure implies an average of one fatal accident every 5.58 million flights.

Despite the low accident rate for last year, fundamental issues regarding how the industry is organized must be addressed, To70 said.

The study noted that the Boeing 737 Max airplane crash raised important issues as to how much information and training is required on new systems and how aviation authorities delegate powers to manufacturers.

"The unsettling events of 2019 are a reminder that we need to retain our focus on the basics that make civil aviation so safe: well-designed and well-built aircraft flown by fully informed and well-trained crews," the study shows.

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