Major deaths from commercial plane crashes worldwide fell by more than 50% in 2019 - group

By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of people who died in large commercial aircraft accidents declined by more than 50% in 2019 despite a high-profile Boeing 737 MAX accident in Ethiopia in March, a Dutch consulting firm said on Wednesday. Aviation consultancy To70 said there were 86 accidents involving large commercial aircraft, including eight fatal incidents, which resulted in 257 deaths last year. In 2018, there were 160 accidents, including 13 fatal ones, which resulted in 534 deaths, the firm said. To70 said the fatal accident rate for large airplanes in commercial passenger air transport was only 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019, or an average of one fatal accident per 5.58 million flights, a significant improvement over 2018. Death numbers include passengers, air crews such as hostesses and anyone on the ground in an air accident The large passenger airplanes in the study are airplanes used by almost all travelers on airlines around the world, but excludes small passenger airplanes in service, including the Cessna Caravan and some smaller turboprop aircraft, according to To70. On December 23, the Boeing board said it had fired the Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg after a couple of fatal accidents involving 737 MAX forced him to announce that he was stopping the production of his best-selling aircraft. The 737 MAX has been grounded since March after an accident in October 2018 in Indonesia and a MAX accident in Ethiopia in March killed a total of 346 people. To70 said the aviation industry made a significant effort in 2019 focusing on so-called 'future threats' such as drones. But MAX's crashes are a reminder that we must keep our focus on the basics that make civil aviation so safe: well-designed and well-built planes flown by fully informed and well-trained crews. Aviation Safety Network said Wednesday that, despite the MAX accident, 2019 was one of the safest years for commercial aviation. The 157 people who died in March on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 accounted for more than half of all deaths last year in the world in air accidents. Over the past two decades, aviation deaths worldwide have declined dramatically as travel increased. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, the Aviation Safety Network said. In 2017, aviation had its safest year registered worldwide with only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops that resulted in 13 deaths and no fatal passenger plane accidents. Last week, 12 people died when a Fokker 100 operated by the Kazakh carrier Bek Air crashed near Almaty after takeoff. In May, a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane caught fire when it made an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, killing 41 people. The figures do not include accidents related to military flights, training flights, private flights, cargo operations and helicopters. (Report by David Shepardson; Jonathan Oatis edition) This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)