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2017 was safest year for commercial airline passengers -- ever

Trumps pats self on back for airline safety news

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ORLANDO, Fla. – New research from two aviation safety groups published New Year's Day show that 2017 was the safest year in modern history for commercial aviation travel.

During the year, there were no fatal crashes of large jet-engine commercial passenger planes, according to studies from to70 and Aviation-Safety Network.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump celebrated the airline safety news on Twitter.

"Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation," Trump said in a tweet. "Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!"

However, airline safety experts say the aviation milestone has been happening over the last two decades and are not derived any specific presidential policy. No significant new or proposed changes from the Trump administration to current rules and regulations were put into place for fiscal year 2017 that ended in September, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s records.

Trump actually promised to loosen the “burdensome” aviation regulations. An aviation industry panel responding to Trump’s request recommended in September that the FAA rollback dozens of safety rules, reports The Atlantic Magazine.

Last year, the president also said he wanted to spin off air traffic operations from the FAA and privatize air traffic control, also pointing to delays in the agency’s NextGen modernization program.
 
“Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline,” president of Aviation-Safety Network Harro Ranter said in an email to News 6.

Ranter said he believes a lot of the credit goes to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations including International Civil Aviation Organization, International Air Transport Association, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry as a whole.

Both aviation safety groups did report fatal crashes of smaller passenger aircraft in 2017.
 
Aviation-Safety Network recorded 10 fatal airliner crashes resulting in 44 crew and passenger deaths and 35 ground deaths for 2017. A total of 24 crashes worldwide resulted in 230 deaths when factoring in corporate jets and military transports, according to Aviation-Safety Network records.

Nine of the 10 fatal airliner crashes, including a New Year’s Eve crash of a Cessna Caravan in Costa Rica that killed 12 people, involved smaller turbo-prop aircraft. The only crash of a large jet for the year was a MyCargo freighter Boeing 747 for Turkish Airlines. The four-engine aircraft crashed at an airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, killinghttps://www.news4jax.com/education/many-private-schools-alachua-county-closed-due-winter-weather all four crew members and 35 people on the ground. Since the freighter was not configured for passenger travel, there were no passengers on board.
 
In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization reported more than 3.7 billion passengers flew on commercial air travel. For comparison, the Aviation-Safety Network reported that in 2016, 16 crashes - commercial, corporate and military - killed 303 people worldwide.  
 
Global aviation consultant firm to70 had slightly different numbers for 2017: two fatal accidents and 13 lives lost. The two accidents involved a Brazilian-built Embraer EMB-120ER operating as an air ambulance that crashed in Angola, killing seven people, and a Czechoslovakian-built Let L-410 that crashed in Russia, killing six passengers and crew.
 
The discrepancy in data between the two groups is based on the size of the aircraft and if passengers were on board. Aviation-Safety Network counts crashes that killed only crew, not just passengers, and excluded “non-commercial” accidents. To70 counted crashes of aircraft that killed passengers, excluded the crew-only fatal crashes, and included aircraft weighing more than about 6 tons.
 
“With so few fatal accidents to examine, it is worth remembering that there were also several quite  serious non-fatal accidents in 2017,” wrote to70’s senior aviation consultant Adrian Young.

The incidents Young referenced include the October 2017 failure of an engine on an Air France Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial passenger transporter, en route from Paris to Los Angeles, the death of a tourist at St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, and the aforementioned cargo jet crash in Kyrgyzstan.
 
Aside from reading this article, if you feel as if you haven’t heard about a major plane crash in a while, it’s because there hasn’t been one for quite some time, domestically, or abroad. 
 
The last fatal airliner incident in the world to claim more than 100 lives occurred more than two years ago on Oct. 31, 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by Russian-based Metrojet, Flight 9268, crashed in North Sinai, Egypt, killing all 224 passengers and crew. That crash, which officials concluded was caused by a bomb, was some 794 days ago. 
 
And if you’re wondering about crashes that have killed less than 100 people, it’s been 400 straight days since that happened. On Nov. 28, 2016, a LaMia Avro RJ85, Flight 2933, crashed near Medellin, Colombia, as 71 of 77 people on board died when the aircraft ran out of fuel.
 
The last time a U.S. airliner crashed and had a passenger fatality was Feb. 12, 2009, when a Colgan Air Bombardier Dash-8 Q400, Flight 3407, stalled near Buffalo after a flight from Newark. Forty-nine passengers and crew died and one person on the ground was killed. The last time a commercial jet airliner crashed in the United States with a resulting fatality was July 6, 2013. An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777, Flight 214, from Seoul to San Francisco clipped a seawall near a runway at San Francisco International Airport during an attempted landing. Three teenage girls were killed; one of them was accidentally run over by a fire truck.
 
In his review of last year’s data, Young wrote that fatal accidents in 2017 on large commercial planes was reduced “to 0.06 fatal accidents per million flights. That is a rate of one fatal accident for every 16 million flights.”

News 6 reached out to the FAA for comment and did not hear back in time for this story.


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