Despite high-profile disasters, air safety steadily improves

AP News
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Posted: May 20, 2016 4:20 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Since the start of 2014, more than 1,600 people have died in commercial aviation disasters. That rate is up from the preceding three years and results in part from some shocking incidents, including a pilot suicide and the downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine by an anti-aircraft missile.

Yet a strong case can be made that airline safety — at least in terms of mechanical failures and human error — is better than ever, even as investigators try to learn why an EgyptAir jetliner crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday with 66 people aboard.

Assuming all 66 are dead, the toll from four commercial airline crashes this year is 163. By contrast, more than 1,000 people a year died in plane crashes between 1991 and 1998.