The total deaths due to commercial aviation accidents in 2019 is 293, according to preliminary data making it the third safest year on record.
The Germany-based Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) reports that over half of the fatalities occurred in the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 in which all 157 people on board died.
It was the second deadly crash in less than six months of a 737 MAX and led to the worldwide grounding of the jetliner.
JACDEC said the disaster in March was an outlier, adding that no fewer than 48 per cent of people died in 2019 as compared to the previous year, when 559 people perished.
It said that only 2013 and 2017 were safer years for commercial aviation since the Second World War.
Air safety expert Jan-Arwed Richter, who heads JACDEC, said the number of fatalities likely would have been higher if not for the grounding of the 737 MAX 8.
Richter believed the continued operation of the aircraft would have put passengers at risk.
JACDEC has analysed civil aviation accidents for around three decades.
Accidents involving aircraft with a weight of over 5.7 tonnes or over 19 seats are recorded.