The number of accidents today is significantly lower than a comparable year more than 15 years ago
The number of flights on commercial jet aircraft was continuously growing prior to the effects of the pandemic. In spite of this growth, the number of accidents was decreasing each decade.
The number of flights in 2021 was still 40% lower than the flights operated in 2019, and there was 1 fatal accident recorded.
This is a slight improvement when compared with the previous years, which indicates the industry resilience to maintain a level of safety despite the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. However, with the number of flights still lower than pre-pandemic levels, it is not possible to say if it shows sustained improvement of the overall safety performance. As the number of accidents and flights will vary each year, accident rates are more relevant than reviewing the number of accidents per year when analyzing trends.
Yearly number of fatal accidents 1959-2021
The rate of fatal accidents is steadily decreasing over time
There were far fewer flights in the 1960s, but a peak in the accident rates is shown due to the lower number of flights and the higher number of accidents recorded during this period. However, the volume of flights over recent decades is sufficient to show that the fatal accident rate is continually decreasing.
Yearly fatal accident rate per million flights
Fourth-generation aircraft have the lowest fatal accident rate
Advances in technology have helped to reduce accident rates for each generation
The continual reduction in accident rates has been achieved by an ongoing commitment of the commercial aviation industry to enable a safe aircraft to be safely operated in a safe air transport system.
A notable part of this success is due to effective regulation, a strong safety culture, and improvements in training. Technological advances are also a crucial enabler for enhancing the level of safety. In particular, technologies introduced in aircraft systems intentionally evolved with improving safety as their aim.
A comparison of fatal accident rates by generation of aircraft provides a clear illustration of the value of commercial aviation industry investments in technology to improve safety. Fourth-generation aircraft have the lowest accident rate of all. In 2021, the fourth-generation fatal accident rate was 0.03 accidents per million flight cycles. This was more than 3 times lower than the third-generation aircraft rate.
10 year moving average fatal accident rate (per million flights) per aircraft generation