CAIRO, Egypt — As officials continue to investigate what happened to EgyptAir Flight 804, many travelers can’t help but question the risks they face when boarding their next flight.
Is it becoming unsafe to fly?
Just the opposite, say analysts.
As we move towards the second half of 2016, it’s shaping out to be one of the safest years in recent aviation history.
“We are ahead of the 10-year average with eight accidents and 167 fatalities compared to the average of 10 accidents and 205 fatalities,” aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas, editor of Airlineratings.com, told CNN.
Analyzing the data
Experts say measuring the number of crashes or deaths alone isn’t an accurate way to determine safety. You also have to factor in the overall amount of aviation traffic.
According to data released by the International Air Transport Association, more than 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights (31.4 million by jet, 6.2 million by turboprop) in 2015.
In a report released earlier this year, AirlineRatings.com said that 2015 was a safer year for aviation than the previous 12 months.
It cites Aviation-Safety.net data that tallies 16 air accidents with 560 fatalities — below the 10-year average and an improvement on 2014 when there were 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities.
“Flashback 50 years and there were a staggering 87 crashes killing 1,597 when airlines carried only 141 million passengers — 5% of today’s number,” said the report.
There were two high-profile air travel incidents in 2015.
In March, an Airbus A320-211 operated by budget carrier Germanwings crashed into the French Alps killing all 150 people on board.
It later transpired that pilot Andreas Lubitz, who was identified as having suicidal tendencies, had caused the crash deliberately.
In August, 224 people were killed when a Russian Metrojet Airbus A321-231 broke apart shortly after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport in Egypt.
The disaster was claimed as a bomb attack by terror group ISIS. Investigations are still ongoing, but initial intelligence reports also pointed the finger at terrorism.
Ranking airline safety
Every year, AirlineRatings.com puts out a list of the world’s safest airlines.
The rating system takes into account audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations, as well as government audits and the airlines’ fatality records.
It also examines airlines’ operational histories, incident records and operational excellence.
According to the site, 148 of the 407 airlines it surveyed have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less.
If an airline has a crash that involves the death of a passenger and/or crew members it will automatically lose a star from its safety-rating rankings.
EgyptAir has a product safety rating of 5/7.
A total of 10 airlines, all from Nepal, Indonesia or Surinam, qualify for just one or zero stars.