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Air transportation safety - statistics & facts

Commercial air travel has a reputation for being a safe way to travel. In 2020, there were only 1.8 billion passengers flying on 16.9 million scheduled flights due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the number of fatalities from commercial air travel accidents has been decreasing on average (although, sadly, some years are worse than others).

Types of aircraft accidents

Of course, most airline accidents do not result in fatalities. The majority of these accidents were caused by a runway excursion, whereby the plane veers off or overruns the runway surface during takeoff or landing. Issues with landing gears and ground damage, where airline personnel cause damage to an aircraft on the ground, were also common causes. Of the fatal accidents in 2020, the majority of fatalities were due to a loss of control of the aircraft in-flight, followed by runway excursion.

Security measures

Air transportation safety is a broader issue than the risk of aircraft accidents though. Another key safety issue is the need for airports to screen passengers and baggage prior to boarding, reducing the risk of dangerous goods or passengers endangering other passengers or the crew during the flight. Airport security procedures create waiting times though, creating the need to balance efficiency with safety – especially seeing as most passengers believe a wait time of more than five minutes is unacceptable. Accordingly, hundreds of millions of dollars are invested globally every year in improving airport security while speeding up processes, for example through implementing automated biometric identification systems.

COVID-19 impact on the safety of air travel

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, countries and organizations began to implement precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 for a public purpose. Some of the preventive methods included imposing lockdowns or encouraging no travel unless necessary by governments. This had a hard impact not only on the aviation industry but also on the decision making for people to travel. In a recent survey, 53 percent of air travelers mentioned a reallocation of empty seats for distancing would improve their confidence while flying. When it comes to the airline to fly with after the COVID-19 pandemic, 71 percent of them mentioned the cabin cleanness as one of the most important factors to determine their airline choice.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 21 most important statistics relating to "Air transportation safety".


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