Data InsightsCommercial flights have become significantly safer in recent decades
May 13, 2024Esteban Ortiz-Ospina

Commercial flights have become significantly safer in recent decades

Line graph showing the rate of fatal airliner accidents per million commercial flights globally from 1970 to 2020. The graph depicts a general declining trend over the 50-year period. It starts with fluctuations around 5 to 6 accidents per million flights in the early 1970s, followed by a variable but overall downward trend leading to less than 2 accidents per million flights by 2020. This indicates an improvement in aviation safety over time. Data sources include the Aviation Safety Network (ASN) and the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The chart is provided by and is licensed under CC BY

According to figures from the Aviation Safety Network, in the 1970s, there were about 6 fatal airliner accidents for every million commercial flights. This meant about 1 in every 165,000 flights ended in a fatal accident.

As the chart shows, this figure has dropped steadily in the last 50 years. According to the latest data, it is now about half a fatality per million flights. This means that, on average, it now takes more than 2 million flights for a fatal accident to occur.

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