Six fatal air crashes in 2022 claimed the lives of 174 passengers and crew, as well as four people on the ground.
Despite these tragedies, it was one of the safest years for commercial air travel in history. The figures are revealed in the latest Civil Aviation Safety Review by a leading expert.
Adrian Young, from Dutch consultancy To70, concludes that despite the number of flights returning to 2019 levels, there has not been a corresponding increase in fatal accidents.
He writes: “The post-Covid recovery that everyone has been waiting for has arrived in 2022. While it has been a difficult summer with capacity problems at airports resulting in long queues at terminals, the recovery has not did not lead to an increase in the accident rate.
“The current rate of one fatal accident per four and a quarter million flights and this year’s fatal accident rate is better than the average for the past 10 years.”
The aviation death toll of 174 is the average road death toll in an hour and a quarter worldwide.
According to the United Nations, 1.3 million people die each year on the roads worldwide, with road accidents being the leading cause of death among people aged 5 to 29.
The first fatal air crash of 2022 accounted for three-quarters of the year’s death toll.
On March 21, China Eastern Flight 5735 was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, to Guangzhou when it entered a near-vertical dive and crashed into the side of Mountain. All 132 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 737-800 were killed.
the the wall street journal later US officials reported that the aircraft had been deliberately nose-down by someone on the flight deck.
The next fatal accident, in Nepal on May 29, killed 22 people. The Tara Air tragedy was the 12th fatal accident involving a commercial aircraft in the Himalayan kingdom in 12 years.
The Independent reports: “Domestic airlines tend to use old and poorly maintained aircraft; the Twin Otter involved in the latest tragedy was around 40 years old.
“Training and enforcement of accepted international aviation standards is inadequate.
“All airlines in the country are banned from the EU because security officials have no confidence in Nepal’s aviation regulator.”
The only other accident with a double-digit death toll occurred in Tanzania on November 6. Nineteen people died when an ATR42 belonging to Precision Air crashed into Lake Victoria.
Flight PW494 from Dar es Salaam was approaching its destination, Bukoba, in dangerous weather conditions.
Two people were also killed in two freak crashes on the ground. The first was on September 2, when a TAP Portugal Airbus A320 landed in Conakry, Guinea at the end of a routine flight from Lisbon – and struck a motorcycle being driven on the runway by two men, who are both deceased.
Two firefighters lost their lives on the runway at Lima in Peru on November 18 in a bizarre crash that saw a Latam Airbus A320 burst into flames after colliding with a fire truck.
It appears the plane had been cleared for takeoff even though a fire engine was about to embark on a scheduled high-speed practice run.
The aircraft was badly damaged and a number of passengers were injured,” said Young’s report.
Also in Peru, a single passenger died Sept. 20 when a Saeta-owned Jetstream 32 overran the runway while attempting to take off at El Estrecho airport near the Colombian border.
Overall, there was one fatal accident for every 4.17 million flights. The rate has been between one in 4 million and one in 5 million every year since 2015, except in 2017 when it was lower and in 2018 when it was higher.
The Safety Review warns: “One trend in 2022 that may, it should be noted, could be linked to a loss of skills following Covid lockdowns, concerns ground handling.
“Three of the accidents, all non-fatal, involved ground handling equipment hitting aircraft with a force that severely damaged them. A gangway, baggage carousel and stairway were involved in all three incidents; two in Europe and one in the USA.
Mr. Young also comments on the growing focus on sustainable flight and airport operations.
“To date, developments in this area have had no impact on security,” he writes. “However, future developments may well require careful consideration to ensure that we are not introducing new risks to civil aviation.”
2021: 38 accidents including 4 fatalities; 81 dead.
2022: 33 accidents including 6 fatalities; 178 dead.