There is an inherent risk associated with commercial air travel. The death tolls vary in number from year to year but the sad truth is that there can practically be a guarantee that at least one plane will crash each year. But are the odds the same as getting struck by lightning, which is often the comparison? Here’s a deeper look into air travel safety.
So far in 2018, there have been over 500 passengers who have died in plane-related accidents around the world. Sadly, that’s only slightly higher than the usual average each year. The average in this decade is 459 fatalities per year, with the largest number coming back in 2014, at 911 deaths. This data is tracked by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is based out of Montreal and acts as the global authority regarding the airline industry and safety.
While those numbers can seem quite frightening, the fact remains that by traveling by air is still the safest form of transportation in the world. Last year, there were just 50 fatalities associated with air travel, but more than 4.1 billion people took to the skies. That works out to a ratio of 12.2 fatalities per billion travelers. Those odds are what makes air travel the safest transportation option on the planet. But that was just 2017, which also happened to be the safest year of air travel ever recorded.
Not counting last year’s unusually low total, most years have seen 2-3 accidents for every million departures each year.
At 911 deaths, 2014 was the worst year on recent record in terms of air travel-related deaths. That’s because there were three major crashes that year, including the AirAsia flight 8501 crash that killed 162 people when it was in route from Surabaya to Singapore. The other two notable catastrophes were Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over the Ukraine and killed 298 people, and the strange flight of MH370. This flight completely disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 227 passengers.
Again, the figures can seem chilling, but if you were to publicize that the number of car fatalities that occur every day, it would exponentially minimize the air travel occurrences.