2011: The Safest Year to Fly

Association says this year had fewest accidents in history and nearly half as many fatalities

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    2011 was a good year for pilots.

    Around the world, 486 passengers or crew members died in the first 11 months of the year. Compared to last year’s 784 fatalities, this year’s number represents a significant improvement in air travel, according to the International Air Transport Association.

    The chances of a plane getting in an accident in 2011 were just over 2 in a million, the report said. Last year, the chances were 2.78 in a million.

    These chances are the lowest they’ve been since the IATA started issuing the report in 1945.

    In the US, the risk is significantly reduced, said Federal Aviation Association’s Southern California spokesperson Ian Gregor.

    In the 2000 fiscal year, there were 60 serious runway accidents. Last year, there were just six, he said.

    The difference in this year’s safety is simply better planes and backup systems, according to the IATA report.

    Gregor added that runway safety in the US has improved drastically – anyone who has flown into the San Diego International Airport or LAX might have noticed bright red warning lights on runway. The lights are attached to high tech ground radar that visibly warns pilots when landing is unsafe.

    “They’re impossible to miss,” Gregor said “It’s really a spectacular display.”

    Another improvement is the communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, Gregor said. Pilots who report mistakes as soon as possible aren’t punished. They are more encouraged to report the problems.