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article image2013 exceptional in flight safety despite Asiana crash Special

By Jordan Howell     Jul 9, 2013 in Travel
San Francisco - While Saturday's crash-landing of Asiana Airlines flight 214 at SFO was a tragedy, and possibly an avoidable one at that, compared to the historical average the last two years boast exceptional safety records.
The analysis, assembled by the Aviation Safety Network, or ASN, shows that YTD aircraft fatalities stand at 62, down 85 per cent from the 10-year average of 357.
“The safety record for 2013 is extremely good,” said Harro Ranter, President of ASN, in an interview with Digital Journal. “Continuous developments in crashworthiness [and] flammability of the aircraft interior…possibly paid off, giving the passengers on flight 214 a fair chance of survival.”
In fact, exactly half of all fatalities so far this year can be attributed to only two accidents: the 29 January crash of a Canadair CL-600 Regional Jet near Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan killing all 16 passengers and five crew members, and the 7 July crash, just one day after the disaster in San Francisco, of a de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Texas Turbine Otter at Soldotna Airport in Alaska, killing all ten on board.
With only six months to go, 2013 is shaping up to be one of the safest years in aviation and likely to be safer than the “exceptionally safe” 2012, which boasted the lowest number of accidents since 1945.
“Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, probably for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry,” Ranter is quoted saying in the 2012 Flight Safety Foundation safety review.
Airline pilot Patrick Smith recently put the crash into perspective in an op-ed at Slate.
“It is imperative to remember that Saturday’s accident was the first multiple-fatality crash involving a major airline in North America since November 2001...Is it perverse to suggest that Saturday's accident, awful as it was, serves to underscore just how safe commercial flying has become? That's asking a lot, I know, in this era of race-to-the-bottom news coverage, when speed and sizzle, not accuracy or context, are all that really count.”
While the crash of Asiana flight 214 is certainly a tragedy, Smith notes that it pales in comparison to the dark days of 1985.
“By the end of that year, 27 crashes had resulted in the deaths of almost 2,400 people. These included the Air India bombing over the North Atlantic, with 329 casualties, and, two months later, the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 outside Tokyo, with 520 dead. (These, the second- and fifth-deadliest incidents in aviation history, happened 49 days apart.) Also in 1985 were the Arrow Air disaster in Newfoundland that killed more than 240 U.S. servicemen, the infamous British Airtours 737 fire, and the crash of a Delta Air Lines L-1011 in Dallas that killed 137.”
With nearly 20,000 commercial flights every day, most of them without incident, the state of flight safety has never been better.
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