Okay, put down the pitchforks, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone!

I'm just aware that every country has its own civil aviation authority, and I wonder if there's any reason to believe that some countries perhaps have safer standards, and perhaps are more vigilant in enforcing them. As opposed to, say...the opposite of that.

My assumption is that most countries, if not all, take aviation safety extremely seriously. And that, as a result, aviation accidents are truly random occurrences that have nothing to do with the country of origin for the flight.

But I may be wrong, hence I'm asking.

NOTE: I am not interested in opinion and personal experience on this. If you don't have statistics and accident reports to back up what you are saying, please refrain from answering.

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    $\begingroup$ A good way to figure this out is to look at the list of air carriers banned in certain countries like the EU which are typically banned because of poor safety standards, regulations, or records. Here is another source for the EU information. The US uses an International Aviation Safety Assessment which also contains the assessment results. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer That's an excellent start to an answer, very resource based. I'd encourage you to pursue it :) $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ We can pretty definitively say aviation accidents aren't truly random, but it may be hard to pin down contributing factors from a simple metric like "accidents per 1000 hours by country of registration." A spike there could be a safety culture problem, or reflective of the kind of operations happening with those aircraft bearing a higher level of risk (extreme environment, hazardous duty, etc.) even when balanced by a strong safety culture. This one is going to merit some complex analysis... $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ Some countries aviation authority use stricter standard due to conservative policy or bureaucracy. $\endgroup$
    – Him
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ The most safety aviation authorities is in Palestine------There is no active airport/heliport in there. $\endgroup$
    – Him
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


Lets take the EU for example. In the EU, there are 230 banned air carriers. The majority of these (228) are banned because the EU CAA has determined that the country in which these carriers operate do not have enough oversight to ensure the safe operation, regulation, and maintenance of the airlines.

Two of the air carriers are banned specifically because of poor maintenance standards, obsolete aircraft, or other reasons.

Similarly the US has the International Aviation Safety Assessment although a much shorter list because it really only evaluates airlines that are codeshare or operated by companies that serve flights to/from the US. For the EU, this is a larger list because it does not require crossing an ocean to get there...

Typically you'll find on these lists quite a few airlines that operate out of developing countries like the Congo or Angola. Its reasonable to draw the conclusion that countries that do not have regulatory oversight for much outside of running the government itself leaves the standards of safety to the operators themselves.

This isn't to say that the operators are automatically unsafe, they just lack government regulation and observation of safety standards.

So to mirror what vortaq7 said in his comment above, quantifying this is going to be difficult since the types of operations vary highly between countries. For example the US has a high accident rate looking at pure fatalities over the last 25 years compared to any other country, but this is because the US is biggest aviation market.

Looking at it in the context of incidents per million flight hours may be available, but it also groups a lot of different types of flights like cargo and commuter. I'm sure this type of data is available for more developed countries with reporting systems and formal accident investigations but may be difficult for countries that don't have that.

And now for a personal note... I know you're not interested in the personal aspect but Angola's air carriers are banned in the EU, so it gives a little credibility to what I say above, plus its a good story. :)

A part of my job is travelling the world and being flown out to oil rigs for work on the automation and safety systems. About 8 or 9 years ago I had to fly out to Luanda, Angola to be flown out to a rig a few hours off the Angolan coast. The flight there (and back) was on the Houston Express, a direct flight from Houston to Angola.

Upon arrival at the Luanda airport, I was taken to the heli-terminal for the flight out to the rig. Now understand that in the US Gulf of Mexico people travelling by helicopter to an oil rig are required to have egress training. In the EU, travelling out into the North Sea also must include cold water survival. In Luanda however, there were zero requirements (I know this because I did not have egress training, nor was I asked to prove I did).

After 3 or 4 equipment delays we were finally boarded on the helicopter, I sat across from the flight engineer and 3 or 4 other rig hands were on board. After take-off and after we flew over the coast, here is pretty much the actual words I spoke:

ME->Flight Engineer: What is dripping on the back of my neck? Smells like fuel.
FE->ME: It is fuel.
ME->FE: Should I be concerned?
FE->ME: Only if it stops dripping, that means we are out of fuel.

Be sure I spent the remainder of the flight studying very carefully how to pop out the egress window...

When we got back to Luanda the aircraft we were supposed to take back to Houston had "mechanical problems" which delayed my return by 3 days. I could see the aircraft on the tarmac and it was sitting on cinder blocks without any tires, literally like you would imagine leaving a nice car in a bad neighborhood overnight. I spent those 3 days in a compound run by the oil company that had 16 foot tall walls with barbed wire and a very hefty front gate.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem with incidents statistics is that in the countries with poor safety culture, where the risk is highest, reporting incidents does not work all that well. So in practice the safer countries report more incidents. See this interview with Simon Hradecky, the editor of The Aviation Herald (he mentions specifically Canada as having particularly good reporting). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ EU has longer list because it includes airlines on them independent of whether they might want to actually fly to Europe or have any cooperation with airline that does. The list also does have some (small) effect even on airlines that don't try to fly to EU, because it detracts travel agents from booking flights with them. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ I know we aren't supposed to encourage anecdotes, but +1 for the 'if it stops dripping' line. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Clark
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ "Two of the air carriers are banned specifically because of ... obsolete aircraft..." Why would obsolete aircraft be a problem, as long as they're kept properly maintained? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes the EU is safest, US next and rest of the world, especially Africa, India and Singapore, are large death traps $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 13:29

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