Global plane crash fatalities involving large commercial aircraft fell more than 50% to 257 in 2019 – despite horrifying Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia

  • Number of deaths in major crashes fell by more than half in 2019, a report found
  • 257 people died in 8 fatal accidents in 2019 compared with 534 people in 2018 
  • The worst crash of 2019 involved an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX plane 
  • The To70 report said it expects 737 MAX to gain permission to fly again in 2020

The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 despite a deadly Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia, according to a report by an aviation consulting firm.

The To70 consultancy said that 257 people died in eight fatal accidents in 2019. 

That compares to 534 deaths in 13 fatal accidents in 2018.

Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 11

The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a Bek Air Fokker 100 crashed Friday on takeoff in Kazakhstan, killing 12 people. 

The worst crash of 2019 involved an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX plane that crashed March 10, killing 157 people minutes after take-off, after the plane’s anti-stall system kicked in and pushed the nose of the plane down.

Chilling black-box recordings from inside the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight painted a chilling picture of chaos as the pilots were bombarded by alarms and failure warnings for six minutes. 

At times the captain and his co-pilot Ahmednur Mohammed, 25, were desperately heaving back in unison on their controls as they tried to keep the colossal jet from plummeting down, before the plane crashed into the sea. 

The preliminary report into the tragic incident found that a malfunctioning sensor sent faulty data to the Boeing 737 Max 8’s anti-stall system and triggered a chain of events that ended in a crash so violent it reduced the plane to shards and pieces. 

The pilots’ struggle, and the tragic ending, mirrored an October 29, 2018 crash of a Lion Air Max 8 off the coast of Indonesia, which killed 189 people. 

The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a Bek Air Fokker 100 crashed Friday on takeoff in Kazakhstan, killing 12 people (crash site pictured)

The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a Bek Air Fokker 100 crashed Friday on takeoff in Kazakhstan, killing 12 people (crash site pictured)

The To70 report said fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019 that led to the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX raised questions about how aviation authorities approve aviation designs derived from older ones, and about how much pilot training is needed on new systems.

The group said it expects the 737 MAX will eventually gain permission to fly again in 2020.

The report said the fatal accident rate for large planes in commercial air transport fell to 0.18 fatal accidents per million flights in 2019 from 0.30 accidents per million flights in 2018. 

That means there was one fatal accident for every 5.58 million flights.

A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at Southern California Logistics Airport on March 27. The group said it expects the 737 MAX to eventually gain permission to fly again in 2020

A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at Southern California Logistics Airport on March 27. The group said it expects the 737 MAX to eventually gain permission to fly again in 2020

The firm’s annual compilation of accident statistics stressed that aviation needs to keep its focus on the basics of having well-designed and well-constructed aircraft flown by well-trained crews.

Last year may have seen fewer deaths but did not equal the historic low of 2017, which saw only two fatal accidents, involving regional turboprops, that resulted in the loss of 13 lives.

This report is based on crashes involving larger aircraft used for most commercial passenger flights. It excludes accidents involving small planes, military flights, cargo flights and helicopters.

 

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