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January 05, 2022

2011 was the safest year to fly ever: report

Less than a week into last September, a flight took off near the city of Yaroslavl, along the Volgar River northeast of Moscow.

1192087_airplaneThe weather was clear; sunny skies. The conditions were enviable.

But then, shortly after the plane’s wheels left the tarmac, the jet listed to the side and crashed into a fiery blaze. On board, 44 people were killed, including 36 players, coaches and staff of Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team.

The wreck was a giant scar on 2011, and a hex on the perceived safety of air travel. Though perhaps it shouldn’t have been. According to a new report, 2011 was the safest year to fly … ever.

Indeed, the Lokomotiv disaster wasn’t the only high-profile wreck that made 2011 seem like a lost one for aviation – four people, including two Oklahoma State women’s basketball coaches, also died in a small plane crash in November – though the latest figures show news coverage may have outstripped reality last year.

*Bing: What is North America's safest airline?

By numbers recently released by Ascend, a London-based aviation consulting firm, there were 401 fatalities on commercial and charter planes last year, down from 726 in 2010.

Almost 2.9 billion passengers flew on aircrafts in 2011, meaning there was one fatality for every 7.1 million boarded passengers.

That’s the lowest rate since Ascend began tracking flight safety data back in 1990.

“There are a couple of things in play,” Peter Goeltz, a former director of the National Transportation Safety Board, told MSNBC. “Aircraft and avionics are better than ever, training is better and we’re getting more information on potential danger points (from pilots).”

Already, there are reports that 2012 will be a banner year for ballooning fares and airline fees, though perhaps, somehow, it’s all related. In some karmic world, we pay up to $100 to pick our seats during online booking, then get improved safety in return.

Do you feel safer on airlines today than you did 10, 15 years ago?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...