The variety of aviation deaths will rise globally in 2020 as deadly incidents and flights lower

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Memorial ceremony for the Ukrainian victims of the Iranian plane crash at Boryspil International Airport outside of Kiev

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of people killed in major plane crashes rose to 299 worldwide in 2020, although the number of crashes fell by more than 50%, a Dutch consulting firm said on Friday.

Aviation consultancy To70 said there were 40 accidents involving large commercial passenger aircraft in 2020, five of which were fatal, resulting in 299 deaths. In 2019 there were 86 accidents, eight of which were fatal, resulting in 257 deaths.

According to To70, large commercial aircraft had 0.27 fatal accidents per million flights or one fatal crash per 3.7 million flights in 2020 – up from 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019.

The drop in crashes was due to a sharp drop in flights due to the coronavirus pandemic. Flightradar24 reported that commercial flights tracked globally in 2020 fell 42% to 24.4 million.

More than half of all deaths in the To70 review were the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian plane was shot down in Iranian airspace in January 2020.

The second deadliest incident was the crash of a Pakistani airliner in May, killing 98 people.

Large passenger aircraft, which fall under the statistic, are used by almost all passengers, but exclude small commuter aircraft that are in use.

Aviation deaths have dropped dramatically over the past two decades. In 2005 there were 1,015 deaths on commercial passenger flights worldwide, said the Aviation Safety Network (ASN).

Over the past five years there have been an average of 14 fatal accidents involving commercial passenger and cargo aircraft, killing 345 people annually, according to ASN.

In 2017, the aviation industry had the world’s safest year ever, with only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops, killing 13 people and not causing any fatal passenger jet crashes.

The United States has not had a US passenger airline fatal crash since February 2009, and one death from a US passenger airline accident during that period.

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