With some 58 million jobs across the globe and $2.4 trillion in economic activity dependent on the aviation sector1, its safety is critical to the health of the global
economy. It is estimated over a third of the value of goods traded internationally are delivered by air. Moreover the industry is growing.
By 2050 it is estimated that some 16 billion passengers – equivalent to more than double the current global population of around seven billion – will need to be flown yearly2, an anticipated increase of 384% compared with the 3.3 billion passengers expected to fly during 20143. In 1960 just 106 million passengers flew worldwide. In 2014, 50 million tons of freight will be flown across almost 50,000 routes4. By 2050 this is expected to increase significantly to 400 million tons5.
Aviation incidents will always captivate both media and public attention as 2014’s tragic and extraordinary activity has demonstrated – by the end of August three of the 10 major non-natural catastrophe insurance losses of 2014 could be attributed to plane crashes. However, the recent air disasters don’t necessarily reflect any major systemic problems with safety. This year’s loss activity is contrary to the low catastrophe rate of recent years with 2012 ranked as the safest year of flying since the beginning of the jet age in 1952.
Although the aviation sector has experienced robust growth since the dawn of this era, the past 60 years have seen an ongoing decline in fatal accidents, underpinned by a continuous improvement in safety.
There are currently fewer than two passenger deaths for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights. By comparison during an early decade of the jet age, (1962 to 1971), there were 133 passenger deaths out of every 100 million passengers. Overall analysis of aviation safety shows improvement in every decade since the 1950s.
In 1959 an individual would face the chance of being in a fatal accident once out of every 25,000 departures in the US and Canada. Today, the odds of dying in a crash aboard an airplane in the US or the European Union are calculated to be 1 in 29 million. The odds of being killed by lightning are 1 in 10.5 million. The odds of dying while riding a bicycle are 1 in 340,000 or about 100 times greater than flying.