CAPE TOWN – The number of people killed in crashes of scheduled airlines fell by 52 percent to 257 in 2019 from 534 in 2018, according to Dutch aviation consultancy To70.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialised agency, said the record low was in 2017 when only 50 people died in 5 crashes for an accident rate of 2.1 per million departures. There were no fatal passenger jet crashes that year, and only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops that resulted in 13 deaths.
The ICAO Secretary General also drew attention to the fact that aviation’s direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts generated some $56 billion in pan-African gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, with the related travel and tourism sectors generating another $194 billion. In addition every person directly employed in the aviation sector in Africa supports another 14.8 jobs elsewhere on the continent.
More than half the fatalities in 2019 were due to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March, when a Boeing 737 Max crashed, killing all 157 people on board. This followed an October 2018 crash, when a Boeing 737 Max operated by Lion Air crashed in similar circumstances, killing all 189 people on board.
The March 2019 crash then prompted a global ban on flying the Boeing 737 Max until the problem has been resolved to the satisfaction of civil aviation authorities.