Six fatal air accidents during 2022 claimed 174 lives of passengers and crew, together with four people on the ground.
Despite these tragedies, it was one of the safest years for commercial air travel in history. The figures are revealed in the latest Civil Aviation Safety Review by a leading expert.
Adrian Young, of the Dutch consultancy To70, concludes that despite flight numbers returning towards 2019 levels, there was not a corresponding increase in fatal accidents.
He writes: “The post-Covid recovery that everyone expected came in 2022. Whilst it was a difficult summer with capacity issues at airports, leading to long queues at terminals, the recovery has not resulted in a higher accident rate.
“The current rate of one fatal accident every four and a quarter million flights and this year’s fatal accident rate is better than average over the last 10 years.”
The aviation death toll of 174 corresponds to the average number of fatalities on the roads in an hour and a quarter worldwide.
The United Nations says that 1.3 million people die each year on the roads worldwide, with road traffic accidents the leading cause of death for people aged five to 29 years.
The first fatal air crash of 2022 accounted for three-quarters of the year’s death toll.
On 21 March, China Eastern flight 5735 was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou when it entered a near-vertical dive and crashed into a mountainside. All 132 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 737-800 were killed.
The Wall Street Journal later reported US officials believed the plane had been deliberately put into a nosedive by someone on the flight deck.
The next fatal accident, in Nepal on 29 May, claimed 22 lives. The Tara Air tragedy was the 12th fatal crash involving a commercial aircraft in the Himalayan kingdom in 12 years.
The Independent reported: “The nation’s domestic airlines tend to use old, ill-maintained aircraft; the Twin Otter involved in the latest tragedy was around 40 years old.