2014: Fewest Airline Crashes Since 1927


Air Asia

It's been a bizarre year for airliine crashes. Malaysia Airlines 370 is still missing, presumably lost in the depths of the Indian Ocean, possibly due to a pilot going amok. It took four months to recover the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines 17 that was shot down by Ukrainian rebels backed by Russia. And now AirAsia QZ8501 is likely missing at the bottom of the Java Sea, possibly as a result of encountering an especially heavy storm. 

Despite these horrific crashes, the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives reports that globally there have been 111 crashes in 2014, the lowest number since 1927. On the other hand, there have been 1,326 deaths in airline crashes this year, up from 459 last year which was the safest year since the advent of jet travel. The worst year for air travel was 1972 when 3,346 people died in crashes.

When assessing the safety of air travel keep in mind that 1.24 million people die each year in road accidents.

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  1. We’ve got a couple days yet! Don’t call it just yet!

    1. *peers at Almanian!*

      Have you ever considered working for a giant Swiss multinational?

      1. Yes – but Nestle’ never called me back 🙁

  2. …possibly due to a pilot going amok.


    1. Imma gonna go all HM here for a minute.

      amok is a Malaysian word meaning “rushing in a frenzy”. It was Air Malaysia. Coincedence? I think not.

      1. Nicely done. Now you just need a link to something with DAT ASS to make it complete (plz).

          1. I will have to wait until I get home from work to check that out…

      2. I bet that was deliberate on Ron’s part.

        1. All: Amok: (among members of certain Southeast Asian cultures) a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder.

  3. It took four months to recover the wreckage of Malayasia Airlines 17 that was shot down by Russian soldiers illegally supporting Ukrainian rebels backed by Russia.

    If you think the Russians are going to give anyone control over Russian air defense assets, I have a bridge you might be interested in.

    1. Could it have been Ukrainian air defense assets that were used? I have no idea.

      1. Nah. The consensus seems to be that it was the Russians/their Ukrainian pawns.

        The convenient way to put this is the way it is in the article: that the Russians gave Ukrainian rebels complete control over high-level air defense assets, which the Ukrainians used to shoot down an airliner.

        I think that’s highly unlikely. High-level air-defense assets require trained and skilled operators, and are extraordinarily dangerous. No way the Russians just tossed the keys to a complete SA-11 system to a bunch of Ukrainian militia, and drove off.

        I think its much more likely that actual Russian soldiers pulled the trigger.

        1. Sure, but as trainers, so they don’t count.

  4. Between this and the Memphis bridge bomb plot I think my Mother in Law maxed out her terrorism freak out while she was visiting for Christmas.

    1. My mother-in-law just believes Republicans want to kill old people. Can we trade for a while?

      1. Maybe the bomb plotters could blow the bridge while Republicans are demonstrating on it!!!!!!

        /derp solution

        1. Are you saying we should merge the mother-in-laws?

            1. MILF

              Mothers [In Law] I’d Like to Fuse….

              1. Contemplates narrowing gaze, but rather *applauds*

            2. Resistance is futile

      2. Mine is basically the AM Radio listening wingnut Shrike is always harping about. Maybe they should hang out.

  5. Alt-text add-on:

    You know whats going on in that Bermuda Triangle?
    Down in the Bermuda Traingle
    Elvis needs boats.
    Elvis needs boats.
    Elvis Elvis Elvis
    Elvis Elvis Elvis
    Elvis needs boats.

    Aahh! The Sailing Elvis!
    Captain Elvis!
    Commodore Elvis it is.

  6. Ron,

    “When assessing the safety of air travel keep in mind that 1.24 million people die each year in road accidents.”

    I agree that air travel is extremely safe (well, I was always nervous getting into a Blackhawk) but how many people are on the roads as opposed to the air? How many hours are they on the roads each year as opposed to in the air?

    /Risk Management rant off

    1. The best metric, I believe is deaths per passenger mile.

      I’d be amazed if air travel wasn’t safer on that metric by a literal order of magnitude.

      1. Oh, quite so! But that is a comparable metric, not like “lots of people die on roadz!”

      2. I never liked that metric. It’s a metric of safety over distance, not safety over time. Shouldn’t safety relative to time spent on travel be more important than distance? If I spend 3 hours in an airplane to get to FL vs. 3 hours in a car to get to New Haven, it’s still 3 hours of my life where safety can be measured.

        I’m sure that air travel still comes out on top when it is compared relative to time. But at least that’s a more accurate measure of how safe one is.

        1. I disagree, MP.

          Which would you rather do, drive 10 hours to travel 500 miles, with a one in ten chance of getting killed on the trip?

          Or fly one hour to travel 500 miles, with a one in twenty chance of not surviving?

          Per trip, your odds are twice as good while flying.

          Per hour, your odds of getting killed are one in 100 while driving, and one in twenty while flying.

          Per mile, your odds of getting killed are 1 in 5,000 while driving, and one in 1,000 while flying.

          You can take the “half as likely to die per hour”. I’ll take the “twice as likely to survive the trip” and “five times less likely to die per mile”.

          1. Stupid math. Should be

            Per mile, your odds of getting killed are 1 in 5,000 (10% divided by 500) while driving, and 1 in 10,000 (5% divided by 500) while flying.


            “half as likely to die per mile”.

        2. The only way in which the per-hour rate would be the most relevant metric of safety is if you expect to spend a certain amount of time traveling, and aren’t concerned with the distance. This would apply to operators (drivers, pilots, mariners, etc.) and some tourists, but for most situations you are travelling to a certain place, and ideally want to spend the least amount of time doing so. For those cases, the per-mile rate is far more applicable.

          I don’t expect to fly back and forth from Grandma’s house just to pass the time; I expect to go there once to visit her for Christmas and then return.

          There is no universal metric, really. Even one that accounts for both time and distance (e.g. incidents per mile per hour) is not going to tell the most appropriate picture for every travel experience.

    2. I thought I could find this, and I did:

      “He said things like: “You know, the chances of your being killed while crossing the street are much greater than of being killed in a plane.”

      “I said: “Yeah? When I cross the street, I look both ways first. If I look both ways on an airplane, will that prevent the pilot from running into the side of a mountain?”…

      “He said: “You are in far more danger while driving your car.”

      “I said: “When I get ice on my windshield, I stop and scrape it off. Can your pilot do that?”


  7. Someone should give Ronald a ‘Stick with the panic narrative’ fortune cookie.

  8. I think much of the horror lies in a belief we in the West have that things are so safe that misadventures should not happen.

    My guess is that the MA-370 loss is horrifying in that they essentially disappeared which is not supposed to happen in our wireless world. The loss of MA-17 is horrifying in that we assume that if you embark in one non-warzone to fly to another non-warzone, you aren’t going to get killed in a warzone.

    The Air Asia crash is mysterious right now (although I suspect the wreckage will be found in the next 48 hours) making it like MA-370.

    Last but not least, people’s perception of risk is colored by the degree of control they have. I surrender control to a pilot if I board a commercial vehicle. If I drive myself, it feels safer because I trust my driving ability.

    1. With that having been said, I am somewhat non-plussed by some of the more spectacular crashes in recent years that make me question how well trained the pilots are:

      The Asiana Air crash in San Fransisco was the product of both the captain and the first officer not being able to handle a landing without a ILS glideslope despite great visibility and calm weather conditions. A third pilot observing in the jump seat repeatedly called out that their sink rate was high and they took no action.

      The Air France crash in the Atlantic a few years back was similarly the product of a pilot misdiagnosing a stall, and flying the plane into the ocean. In that case, he had a bad airspeed indicator, but he also had a plethora of instruments telling him he was in a stall, including the Angle of Attack indicator – which is about as fail proof an instrument as there is.

      Both of these crashes struck me as the result of pilots who were so dependent on automated systems as to be helpless when they fail. Which is pretty worrisome.

      1. ” Both of these crashes struck me as the result of pilots who were so dependent on automated systems as to be helpless when they fail. Which is pretty worrisome.”

        Replace pilots with people and that’s how I feel about half the time about everything. You ever try to get change at a store when the register wasn’t working right?

        1. I know what you mean. I remember a conversation my mom had with a clerk a few years back where my mom was trying to explain that half price meant 50% off, and the clerk was suspiciously refusing to ring up our purchase, insisting that we wait till her manager came and straightened everything out.

          The manager apologized to the clerk about the sale stickers being confusing before explaining that yes half price was 50% off. That was when I was sorely tempted to start referring to the world as the asylum.

          1. It’s only idiot Americans that are products of the public school system that can’t do basic arithmetic. Immigrants can always add and subtract to the penny with ease and speed.

    2. I think much of the horror lies in a belief we in the West have that things are so safe that misadventures should not happen.

      So you are trying to say the plane disappearance is actually Cthulhu’s fault?

      Ph’nglui mglw’nafh AirAsia QZ8501 R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”?

      1. They were the lucky ones.

  9. It’s strange that all of these crashes have been Southeast Asia flights. I’m not sure I will be planning a trip to that part of the world anytime soon.

    When assessing the safety of air travel keep in mind that 1.24 million people die each year in road accidents

    It’s not surprising when you have everyone driving a car and only a select few flying around commercial airliners. This is despite the fact that I’m guessing road vehicle safety features have progressed far more rapidly than aircraft.

    At least cars have air bags. On a crashing plane, the only safety feature is buckle up, tray table up, and kiss your ass goodbye.

    Isn’t there some type of potential system that could guide a plane safely to the ground instead of crashing into it at 600mph?

    1. Well, unless you are lucky, like the pilots of the Gimli Glider,* landing a plane safely hundreds of miles from an airport is almost impossible.

      Airplanes are necessarily build lightly, but even so, the weight of a jet plane makes a minumum speed of 200 mph necessary to stay aloft. Your kinetic energy at that speed is simply too high for any structure to withstand the force of impact.


      1. Fuel loading was miscalculated due to a misunderstanding of the recently adopted metric system which replaced the imperial system.

        I think I see the problem.

        1. More infuriatingly, the change wasn’t one the airline undertook voluntarily, but one mandated by the state.

          They literally outlawed the use of imperial units in transactions, with no consideration to the impact that this decree would have on the manifold businesses affected by it.

        2. ” I think I see the problem.”

          Jimmy Carter? I still curse his name every time I grab a wrench I think is the right size, only to find out I need a metric.

        3. There was also a malfunctioning fuel gauge involved.

          I wonder if their were ever any accidents caused by British/Canadian/Australian pilots refuelling at US airports and not thinking about the different size of the US gallon vs Imperial gallon?

          1. I thought they fuelled aircraft by weight of fuel instead of volume.

            1. Please note, I’m not an aviation nut and could simply be confused.

            2. It is done by weight – that’s where the onboard fuel gauge comes in – but the flow through the intake can only be measured by volume, which then has to be converted to weight based on the specific gravity of the fuel.

    2. The Ukraine thing was really the fault of the Russians aided and abetted by the Ukrainians’ unwillingness to close their air space.

      The Malaysians should have routed north through Russian territory, but all those flights are a bit of a shit sandwich; there is no route that doesn’t transit some bit of fighting on the ground.

      The MH-370 could be pilot suicide. I expect though that should the wreckage be found it will turn out that they lost pressurization and the flight deck’s oxygen supply was compromised. Hypoxia/anoxia has led to lots of ghost airplanes flying until they run out of fuel. There was a Quantas flight where an exploding emergency oxygen bottle rocketed into the passenger compartment and out of the aircraft – resulting in both a loss of pressure, and the passengers having no O2. In that case the plane was able to descend rapidly and nobody suffered permanent brain damage.

      This latest crash was likely caused by a storm ripping the plane apart or putting the plane in an attitude that the air crew could not recover from. I think this happens once every decade or two. Of course, there should be floating wreckage if that happens…

  10. On the other hand, there have been 1,326 deaths in airline crashes this year, up from 459 last year

    Ron, you still haven’t figured out that, if you want to get that high-paying MSM job, you need to report this as:


    in 72 point red banner headlines.

    1. You forgot my favorite, “Air travel deaths on the rise!” Bonus points for use of the word “epidemic”.

    2. *holds candlelight vigil at Detroit Metro*

      1. You can only get +1 Drudge if you add the obligatory poll of the week showing Jeb Bush and Hillary the clear front runners for 2016!

        1. As we know from Bill’s days in office, whenever the matchup is Clinton v Bush, you can count on Clinton to come out on top.

  11. Fewest Airline Crashes since 1927

    We must be running out of planes!

    /end sarcasm.

  12. Tony thinks the airline industry is insufficiently regulated.

    1. Tony thinks the airline industry everything is insufficiently regulated.

    2. I just scanned the Wikipedia article summarizing airline crashes.

      By my count, there have been 16 people killed in US air crashes since the beginning of 2012. That is including the ASIANA crash in SFO in 2013.

      1. I should have specified commercial flights.

        That does not include general aviation.

    3. You lost me at “Tony thinks”.

  13. Fox News anchor asks FAA official if the AirAsia disappearance was caused by the metric system:

    1. I can see the connection.

      Terrorists like to target airplanes.

      The metric system is terrifying.

      So the metric system is trying to take our planes down.

      It all makes sense now!

      But where does Ebola fit in?

      1. Never mind Ebola, what about Evola?

    2. They must have read the link above about the Air Canada flight!

  14. Ole Rufus here hates to fly. If there was a road to Europe he’d take it.

    And my cocksucker buddy didn’t help matters when, knowing full well of my discomfort (probably because having watched Airport ’75 when I was kid), looked at me just before take off and said, ‘it’s all an illusion of safety.’

    Piece of shit.

    1. Messed that up:

      And my cocksucker buddy didn’t help matters when, knowing full well of my discomfort (probably because having watched Airport ’75 when I was kid), on a trip to Europe looked at me just before take off and said, ‘it’s all an illusion of safety.

      Still a POS.

  15. This was pretty funny. A Tea Party Facebook group posted a link to a story about the plane going missing, and the comments are gold.

    Featuring gems such as:

    “Someone needs these planes for a reason. 9/11 ring a bell?”

    1. Terrr’rists r’storin’ planes to attack!

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