Statistically, air travel remains the safest when compared with other modes of travel like rail, bus or cars. The wider publicity generated by airline crashes seem to overstate the number of deaths as compared with those caused by other modes of transport.
It is even safer than other accidents. According to US National Safety Council, the chance of dying in an 'air and space transport incident' over a lifetime is 1:8,357, compared with dying from heat exposure (1:8,321), choking (1:3,649), in an accident as a pedestrian (1:723), a fall (1:152) or unintentional poisoning (1:119).
It seems hard to believe that the year 2014 was a 'very safe year for commercial aviation' (The Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network, which tracks civil aircraft carrying 14 passengers or more), especially when during the same year, Malaysia alone had 3 major air crashes (2 involving MAS and the latest Air Asia) with loss of hundreds of lives. 'How could that be?' many may ask. But when statistics for the airline industry are shown, the odds seem amazingly low.
'The Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives, which tracks all aircraft, says in terms of crashes, last year saw the lowest number in more than 80 years. There were 111 crashes last year, including the recent AirAsia crash. The last time there were 111 crashes was in 1927.'
It is misleading to look at the same number of crashes in 2014 and 1927, and in terms of percentage, it would be clear considering the much larger number of aircraft today.
According to NST's infographic: Odds of being on a flight that results in at least one fatality:
78 major world airlines: 1 in 3.4 million;
Top 39 airlines with the best accident rates: 1 in 10 million;
Bottom 39 with the worst accident rates: 1 in 1.5 million.
Odds of being killed on a single airline flight:
78 major world airlines: 1 in 4.7 million;
Top 39 airlines with the best accident rates: 1 in 19.8 million;
Bottom 39 with the worst accident rates: 1 in 2 million.
Source: OAG Aviation & Plane Crash info.com accident database, 20 years of data (1993-2012)
It is a pity I could not find the link to the New Sunday Times article. The other interesting NST infographic was on Number of accidents per flight phase:
Initial climb: 3
En Route: 13
In another article in the NST: Is it still safe to fly?
'If statistics from aviation accident tracking agencies are used as yardstick, aircraft accidents, including fatal ones, occur almost every other day worldwide. Last year, aviation disasters claimed 1,320 lives.' Yet flying is still the safest mode of travel!