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2015 Witnessed Few Airline Accidents
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As attractive as cheap travel options such as cheap airplane tickets, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages are to most would be travelers, everyone is always pleased to hear that airline accidents are declining.
There were just eight accidental airline accidents last year, responsible for 161 passenger and crew deaths. 2015 saw the fewest crashes and deaths since at least 1947. Experts believe that continuing improvement in safety technology and aircraft design is responsible for this progress.
Malicious acts resulted in far more deaths last year, such as the one where 374 people were killed when a Germanwings airline was deliberately flown into a mountainside in the French Alps last March and a Russian airline exploded over Egypt in October.
The death toll of the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared in 2014 and another that was shot down over Ukraine totaled 537 compared with 436 accidental deaths that year.
These figures are for all types of airline flights, including cargo, positioning, training, and maintenance flights.
There were only 98 paying passengers killed in accidents last year compared to 790 passengers killed in 2007 and an annual average of 1,289 passengers killed in accidental crashes in the 1970s.
Airline safety has improved to the point where there are very few fatal accidents in the air whereas flight security remains a very real concern.
The rate of global fatal accidents for all types of airline operations last year was one per five million flights, the lowest rate ever. The previous best year was in 2014 with a fatal accident rate of one per 2.5 million flights.
Better engineering has made aircraft engines far safer than earlier generations of planes. However more needs to be done to identify and deal with disturbed pilots and to take steps against acts of terrorism.
The Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz was able to conceal his mental problems even though his airline (as do others) continually evaluates pilots for signs of trouble. Pilots also are asked to evaluate each other.
We still do not know what caused Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to disappear while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The most commonly held belief by experts is that this disappearance was the result of a deliberate act, probably by one of its two pilots.
Pilots are highly trained to protect their passengers and taught skills to deal with unanticipated events. They are also evaluated on how well they deal with stress. Those who do not handle stress well are weeded out of the profession.
The Islamic State claimed credit for a bomb believed to be responsible for blowing apart a MetroJet A320 over Egypt.
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