Last year, considerably fewer people took to the airways over the United States and the rest of the world. Yet, dozens more people died in commercial plane crashes in 2020 than in the year prior, raising questions about why aviation-related deaths rose despite there not being as many planes in the air.
According to the Guardian, there were a total of 40 commercial flight accidents that took place last year, and five of those incidents resulted in one or more fatalities.
2020 aviation statistics
Last year, there was a 42%-reduction in commercial flights compared to the year prior. Yet, there were a total of 299 commercial plane fatalities in 2020 and just 257 in 2019, even though there were many more commercial plane incidents in 2019. That year, there were 86 commercial plane accidents, eight of which resulted in at least one fatality.
Other aviation crash statistics
While commercial-aviation-related fatalities rose in 2020, before that, they had been on a steady decline. In 2017, the world saw its safest year on record, with only two fatal aviation accidents occurring that year. Also, over the past five years, there has been an average of 14 fatal accidents involving commercial carriers or cargo planes each year, resulting in an average of 345 fatalities per year.
Many of the aviation fatalities that took place in 2020 resulted from the same two incidents. A Ukrainian plane crash resulted in the deaths of 176 individuals, causing more than half of all aviation deaths that year. Another plane crash involving a Pakistani airliner resulted in an additional 98 deaths in 2020.