After decades of improvement, aircraft safety seems to have stagnated, say industry sources. The number of fatal accidents worldwide in 2008 was 34, with 583 people killed. This includes passenger and freight aircraft, but excludes private flying (general aviation) and the military.
While figures vary greatly from one year to the next, it appears that the trend has been flat since about 2003, reports Flight International (20-26 Jan 2009). ‘Rulemaking’ has, it is argued, taken safety about as far as it can.
Most of the people killed and injured in crashes are those in the aircraft. But ‘third party risk’ – danger posed to people on the ground – must also be taken into account. Unlike staff or passengers, people living near the UK’s airports and airfields may receive no direct benefits from local aviation activity, while nevertheless being exposed to increased levels of risk.