2012: Safest Year To Fly Since Dawn of Jet Age

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 29 2012 4:27 PM

2012: A Safe Year To Fly

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Four people were killed Saturday when a Russian-made airliner overshot a runway at an airport outside Moscow

Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Fear of flying may soon be a thing of the past as 2012 was a great year to get on a plane. Air travel is now the safest it has been “since the dawn of jet planes,” reports the Wall Street Journal, noting that the industry is set to mark the lowest rate of fatalities in 2012 since the early 1960s. Before Saturday’s crash near Moscow that killed four people, there were a total of 22 fatal crashes across the world in 2012, a decline from the 28 seen in 2011 and far lower from the 34 fatal accidents per year that is the average over the last decade. Of the 22 crashes, only 10 were of passenger aircraft, and just three were larger jetliners built in the West. The other seven were turboprops built in the West or Russia.

Considering there was only one fatal accident per 2.5 million flights, 2012 “was almost twice as safe as 2011,” according to an expert cited by the Journal. There is still room for much improvement in the higher crash rates across developing areas, particularly Africa and Latin America, but the 470 fatalities from air accidents in 2012 is far below the average of 770 people over the decade. This year will likely mark the first time since 1991 that airline insurance claims for plane accidents will drop below $1 billion, reports Bloomberg.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.