There was a sharp increase in the number of deaths resulting from air crashes last year, according to new figures.
There were 556 fatalities from 15 airliner accidents in 2018 – up from 44 deaths from 10 accidents in 2017, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network (ASN).
It means that 2018 was worse than the five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities. It follows 2017 being the safest year in aviation history.
Despite the 2018 figures, Netherlands-based ASN said airline safety is improving over time, with the accident rate much lower than 10 years ago.
The ASN said 12 of the accidents in 2018 involved passenger flights, while three related to cargo flights.
The accident with the highest number of deaths in 2018 was October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia – which left 189 people dead.
The Boeing 737 Max plane crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take off from Jakarta. It was reported that a preliminary study found it had previously suffered technical problems.
Other deadly crashes included:
- 112 people died when a Boeing 737 operated by state airline Cubana crashed shortly after taking off from Havana's Jose Marti International Airport on May 18
- There were no survivors when a passenger jet carrying 71 people crashed shortly after taking off from Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow on February 11
- 66 people died after their plane crashed in fog in a mountainous region in southern Iran on February 18
ASN suggests that safety has been improving over the past 20 years, and at a time when there has been strong demand for worldwide air traffic.
Chief executive Harro Ranter said: “If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year.
“At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been even 64 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”
ASN described loss of control accidents as being a major safety concern in the aviation industry over the past five years, as these accounted for at least 10 of the 25 worst accidents – most of which were described as “not survivable”.