Accident statistics indicate that air travel is among the safest modes of transportation in the world. Its fatalities per billion miles traveled total 0.07. The comparable number for cars is 7.28. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended these numbers, although more accurate ones for the past year are impossible to come by. There are no good numbers on how many people became infected on planes and died later.
Ratings and reviews website Airline Ratings has come up with a complex system to examine the safety records of 385 carriers. The evaluation includes “incidents reported over the last two years, crash records over the last five, audits done by the body that oversees airline, called The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).” Also considered are fleet age and whether airlines are banned from operating in the European Union.
Airline Ratings claims it is the gold standard of tracking carrier safety and is used by travelers in 195 nations.
Air New Zealand took the top spot in the 2022 rating list. Among the reasons given is that Air New Zealand operates in “some of the most challenging weather conditions and remote environments.” Also, its fleet is young at an average of 6.8 years per plane.
The results show how easy it is to be knocked down the list. Australia’s Qantas had the top spot last year. One non-fatal incident at the Perth Airport in 2018 was enough to push it out of first place.
The Airline Ratings report on the safest carriers highlights the 20 airlines with the best scores. Five are U.S.-based: Alaska Air, Hawaiian Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
How close together are the safest 20 airlines based on their scores? AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas commented that “there is very little between the top 20, they are all standouts.”