Last year was safest ever to fly, with no jetliner fatalities

Last year was the safest ever for commercial flying by a number of measures, the airline industry’s global lobby said, with no fatal accidents involving passenger jets in 37.7 million flights. 

No hull losses to passenger jets were recorded either, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday in its 2023 Annual Safety Report for global aviation. By comparison, there was one fatal jet accident in 2022. Overall, the rate of accidents fell to one per every 1.26 million flights last year, the lowest in more than a decade.

IATA’s annual safety report follows a rocky start to 2024, which has seen serious aircraft incidents in Japan and the US. A runway collision on Jan. 2 between an Airbus SE A350 operated by Japan Airlines Co. and a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 at Haneda airport killed five crew on the coast guard plane. A few days later, a panel on one of Alaska Airline’s Boeing Co. 737 Max 9 blew off shortly after takeoff, though there were no fatalities in that incident.

“Two high profile accidents in the first month of 2024 show that, even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said in a statement.

Risks were higher for passengers on turboprop aircraft than on commercial jetliners last year. Even there, there was only one fatal accident — a propeller aircraft went down in Nepal, killing 72 people. The overall number of flight movements, including all passenger aircraft, increased from 32.2 million in 2022. –BLOOMBERG