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Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, ended up in the middle of the pack in this year's global safety ranking for airlines /Photo: Lufthansa

Why Lufthansa dropped dramatically on global aviation safety ranking

The safest airline in the world in 2019 was Emirates, according to the latest edition of the JACDEC Safety Index. With a risk index of 95.48 percent, it ended up only slightly ahead of another gulf airline, Etihad Airways (95.21 percent). Third place finisher was Spain’s Air Europa. This was the result of the annual safety ranking conducted by the Hamburg-based Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) in cooperation with the aviation magazine Aero International, published on Thursday, 2 January.

Last year’s winner Finnair only reached fourth place. Lufthansa was particularly unlucky as it slipped from the 21st position in 2018 to the 56th last year. The reason for the dramatic drop was a mishap on 30 July 2019 in Frankfurt, when a ground staff of the airline mistakenly steered a mobile passenger staircase into the rear of a jet already waiting with passengers on board for takeoff. The plane was damaged beyond repair.

The accident statistics of the year was dominated by the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people aboard and which resulted in the aircraft model being grounded. Boeing has scraped the production of the aircraft at the end of 2019.

The JACDEC rating includes the 100 airlines with the highest traffic performance worldwide. The results are presented as a percentage, with the values oriented downwards from the (only theoretically achievable) maximum value of 100 percent.

The complete ranking with all 100 places and an extensive security analysis of the year 2019 will appear in the print edition 2/2020 of “Aero International” on 14 January.

The assessment is based on the airline’s accident history over the past 30 years, the country-specific environment in which it operates and airline specific risk factors. The ratings take into account the number and deadliness of the hull losses (destroyed airplanes) they have suffered in the past 30 years, how they have fared more recently, and how many flights they have flown without incident.

Critics say the index is not a perfect measure of how safe an airline operates because it does not take into account the cause of accidents or whether an airline is at fault.

2019, third safest year for flying

In the same vein, JACDEC has also reported that the number of people killed in air crashes in 2019 was about half of the casualties from the previous year.

The Hamburg-based aviation security agency noted that there were 293 fatalities in aviation accidents, compared to 559 in 2018.

When measured by the number of victims, 2019 was the third-safest year for air travel since World War II. Only in 2013 and 2017 — when 40 fatalities were recorded — were fewer people killed in air crashes.

The statistical probability of a plane crash has fallen over the past 50 years from 1 in 264,000 to 1 in 15,874,000.

Felix Dappah

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