FRANKFURT – The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019, according to a report by an aviation consulting firm.
The To70 consultancy said Wednesday that 257 people died in eight fatal accidents in 2019. That compares to 534 deaths in 13 fatal accidents in 2018.
The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a Bek Air Fokker 100 crashed Friday on takeoff in Kazakhstan, killing 12 people. The worst crash of 2019 involved an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX plane that crashed March 10, killing 157 people.
The report said fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019 that led to the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX raised questions about how aviation authorities approve aviation designs derived from older ones, and about how much pilot training is needed on new systems.
The group said it expects the 737 MAX to eventually gain permission to fly again in 2020.
The report said the fatal accident rate for large planes in commercial air transport fell to 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019 from 0.30 accidents per million flights in 2018. That means there was one fatal accident for every 5.58 million flights.
The firm's annual compilation of accident statistics stressed that aviation needs to keep its focus on the basics of having well-designed and well-constructed aircraft flown by well-trained crews.
Last year may have seen fewer deaths but did not equal the historic low of 2017, which saw only two fatal accidents, involving regional turboprops, that resulted in the loss of 13 lives.
This report is based on crashes involving larger aircraft used for most commercial passenger flights. It excludes accidents involving small planes, military flights, cargo flights and helicopters.