Yes – I know 2009 is not over for everyone just yet, but assuming nothing bad happens tonight, we’ll be able to say farewell to a year that was relatively safe for air travel.
In 2009, there were 111 accidents involving commercial aircraft. Of those accidents, 20 were fatal to one or more passengers.
The average from the past ten years was 135 accidents, 28 of which were fatal. Looking at the figures for the past three years, air travel is amazingly safe – only one accident for every 1.7 million flights.
In 2009, there were several major accidents – the largest of course involving Air France flight 447 which dropped into the ocean 350 miles off the coast of Brazil. The cause of this crash is still under investigation, and the black box has not been retrieved.
In the United states, the worst accident happened back in February when a Colgan Air turbo prop crashed into a Buffalo home, killing all 49 people on board, plus one person on the ground. The Buffalo crash has thankfully helped create some more attention for pilot working conditions, and improved training.
Of course, the Hudson river incident is the one that will probably stick with us the longest.
We were just 15 days into 2009 when Captain Chesley Sullenberger ditched his US Airways Airbus A320 into the Hudson river. Everyone on board was able to evacuate the plane, and with just a few minor injuries, this accident was a fantastic piece of news for an otherwise gloomy and depressing January. This accident also showed the power of social media, as Twitter was the source of the first news and photos from the crash.
(Sources: NLR-Air Transport Safety Institute / Telegraaf)