2021 was the second safest year in air travel

Preliminary data indicate only four fatal accidents involving commercial aircraft, with 125 lives lost

The year 2021 ended with the record of just one fatal accident with a large commercial aircraft and 125 lives lost, according to preliminary data from the Aviation Safety Network (ASN).

In fact, there hasn’t been a serious accident with a commercial jet in almost a year since the last episode happened on January 9, 2021 with a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500.

Flight SJ182 took off from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, but fell into the Java Sea soon after, with the loss of 62 people, including passengers and crew.

An unfortunate coincidence was that the 737-500 crash occurred near where Lion Air’s 737 MAX 8 crashed in 2018, but that it was a new aircraft. Sriwijaya Air’s Boeing, by contrast, was nearly 27 years old, and although investigations are still under way, the likely cause would have involved the jet’s autothrottle.

In addition to the 737, three more commercial aircraft (all of them turboprops) had fatal accidents during 2021.

On March 2, a South Sudan Supreme Airlines Let 410 aircraft crashed into the country killing 10 occupants. Another aircraft of the same type crashed on September 12 in Russia after hitting trees while approaching to land in Siberia.

DOSAAF Let-410 (Mchs.gov.ru, CC BY 4.0)

The most recent commercial airline crash occurred on December 23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A Malu Aviation 360 Shorts crashed shortly after takeoff, killing five people. The company is banned from flying by the European Union.

According to ASN records, 2021 was just not safer than 2017, when only 59 people died in 14 air accidents. Last year, the site computed 10 accidents, slightly higher than 2020, when there were eight accidents.

0.18 fatal accidents per million flights

To70 consultancy carried out a similar survey, which indicated 81 fatalities in 2021. According to the company, there were 38 accidents on air travel against 40 in 2020, but there were five fatal accidents that killed 299 people.

Like the ASN, To70 also considered 2021 the second safest year in air transport, after only 2017. The fatal accident rate last year was only 0.18 per million flights, compared to 0.27 fatal accidents per million flights in 2020.


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