Passenger jet transport is very safe, but are there any jet airliners with a lower recorded accident rate?


number of accidents per se is of course never a good indicator since it will always rise over the years and with fleet size. Accidents per flying hour skews towards long distance aircraft, since not many accidents happen during cruise. The most objective comparison would be the rate of accidents per million departures of the type.

  • $\begingroup$ The question in the header does not match the question in the text. $\endgroup$ – h22 Jan 4 '18 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, fixed it, thx $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 4 '18 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ @mins the number of accidents per million departures seems to be documented well. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 4 '18 at 13:01

All newly developed types have zero number of accidents, at least immediately before the maiden flight.

Hence the actual safety of the type cannot be derived just from the number of the accidents. The number of flights flown must also be taken into consideration. For instance, Concorde used to be the absolutely safe (zero accidents) for many years (1969 - 2000), then it became comparable to other planes just because of the only crash of the type.

This source contains the table that includes the number of airliners operating, not just the number of accidents. It is very incomplete but looks like Boeing 777 and ERJ 135/145 may not be a bad choice while Boeing 737 'Classic' does not look equally good. The safety of this type has been discussed separately.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Accidents per number built....just never use them and they will have a perfect safety record. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 5 '18 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ accident rate according to your table is utterly meaningless. It doesn't take into account passenger/miles traveled over the period in which the accidents and fatalities are shown. The number currently in service is meaningless as it says nothing about how many aircraft were in operation over time or how much they were used. E.g. the 737 classic used to be far more prevalent but has largely been replaced except in accident prone areas like Africa and parts of Asia where maintenance standards and pilot proficiency tend to be lower. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Jan 5 '18 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ In any case, it is still better than just to count accidents. $\endgroup$ – h22 Jan 5 '18 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ That source is woefully out of date. The 777 has been involved in 3 fatal incidents with hundreds of deaths between 2012 and now. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Medico Jan 6 '18 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewMedico Indeed. And the 787 and A350 aren't on the list. For that matter, neither are the 747 or A380. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jan 18 '18 at 16:08

The latest types! From this link for the worldwide commercial jet fleet:

From that link

shows that jet airliner accidents/million departures declined rapidly from an initial high rate, followed by a slow steady decline to the present day. Experience with the accidents that did happen was built into later production aircraft, and each generation became safer and safer.

enter image description here

Page 19 (Hull loss accident rate per million departures) re-sorted from most to least frequent shows that:

  • The Really Old Types (no longer in service) and the B707 and DC-8 have the highest accident rate.
  • The F-28 has a relatively high accident rate: it found a niche in parts of the world with a poor safety record and oversight.
  • Each subsequent generation of 737 becomes safer.
  • The most frequent aircraft, B737-NG and A320 family, are amongst the safest.
  • Of the aircraft with > 1m departures, nobody ever died on board of an A340, B717, or CRJ series. However, fleet size and years in operation have them in the low millions of departures and therefore low statistical significance.
  • There are 6 types with zero accidents working on their 1 million departure milestone. Aviation is very safe: only after a couple of million of departures of the type do we have significant comparison numbers.
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    $\begingroup$ The hull loss chart is inaccurate and statistically skewed in favor of new airplanes. The B747 is one of the safest production aircraft every built but the graph appears to show older planes unsafe - this is not the case. Wiki describes B747 hull loss statistics like this, "Had these planes been newer it would have been economically viable to repair them". Companies are quick (not necessarily involved in serious accidents) to file insurance claims on older aircraft. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_747_hull_losses $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jan 4 '18 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ The hull loss chart also adds a bias between pilot error and aircraft design. Ignoring computerization and improved cockpit design, pilot training has improved; especially in regard to CRM (crew resource management) . CRM has made significant strides in eliminating type A personalities in the cockpit. Which was quite common with the now retired WWII and Vietnam pilots. A crash 30yrs ago is much less likely to result in death today; simply due to pilot training. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jan 4 '18 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt The document is from the Boeing company - are you saying they skew against their own aircraft? And yes experience is added in all fields in order to improve safety, in construction, piloting, air traffic control... $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 4 '18 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt Do you have a link for "type A personality", maybe even one discussing the different personality "types" thus enumerated? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 4 '18 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ It's not hard, just google 'type a personality'... "Type A and Type B personality theory describes two contrasting personality types. In this theory, personalities that are more competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, highly aware of time management and/or aggressive are labeled Type A, while more relaxed personalities are labeled Type B." - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_and_Type_B_personality_theory $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jan 4 '18 at 15:12

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