This Year Was A Statistically Fantastic One In Terms Of Staying Alive On Airplanes

The bodily terror some might feel upon having to embark on a journey through the air might be eased a bit by knowing that 2011 was a very good year so far as personal safety. Experts say the number of passengers killed in air accidents this year is down an encouraging amount from last year.

MSNBC cites analysis from aviation consultation company Ascend that says worldwide there were 401 fatalities in 2011, down from 726 in 2010. Considering that about 2.9 billion people fly the friendly skies each year, that’s only one fatality for every 7.1 million passengers. That’s an all-time low since the company began looking at data in 1990.

Other experts agree as well, attributing the low numbers to various factors.

“There are a couple of things in play,” said aviation consultant Peter Goeltz, senior vice president with O’Neill and Associates and former director of the National Transportation Safety Board. “Aircraft and avionics are better than ever, training is better and we’re getting more information on potential danger points because pilots can report mistakes without being punished.”

So if you’re still really scared of flying, which airlines should you avoid? Smaller carriers and those servicing certain markets.

“I wouldn’t fly Kyrgyzstan Airways or any other ‘Stan Airways for that matter,” said Goelz, “and Africa is still a terrible place to fly due to the lack of infrastructure and civil aviation oversight.”

And things are only going to get better, as the industry continues to improve with new technology and safety practices.

Air-travel fatality rate hits all-time low [MSNBC]