Airline fatalities rose in 2016 but the year was still one of the safest in decades

Fans pay tribute to the players of Brazilian team Chapecoense Real who were killed in a plane accident in the Colombian mountains on Nov. 29.
(Heuler Andrey /Getty Images)

The November crash of a flight carrying a Brazilian soccer team, which killed all but six of the 77 people on board, was one of 18 fatal airline crashes in 2016, an increase from 14 fatal aviation accidents in 2015, according the Aviation Safety Network.

The 18 accidents resulted in 324 deaths, compared with the 186 fatalities from the 14 aviation accidents in 2015, according to the network, which tracks fatalities worldwide on airlines, corporate jets and military aircraft.

The good news is that, despite the increase in accidents in 2016, the total number of aviation crashes and fatalities per year have dropped sharply in the past few years.


The worldwide accident rate is now one fatal passenger flight per 3.2 million flights, according to the network.

Industry experts attribute the decline in accidents to a push for higher safety standards by international aviation groups, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

“Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline,” said Harro Ranter, president of the Aviation Safety Network.

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