Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About the AirAsia Disappearance, in One Chart

Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About the AirAsia Disappearance, in One Chart
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

For the casual observer, 2014 seems like a horrendously shitty year for air travel.

There have been three high-profile airline disasters this year: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 headed from Malaysia to Beijing that sent CNN into a perpetual meltdown, the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, and now the disappearance of AirAsia Flight 8501 en route to Singapore. With these incidents burned into the public consciousness by round-the-clock cable news coverage, it should come as no surprise that many may feel reticent about stepping foot on a plane in 2015, let alone a Malaysia-based airliner.

But those anxieties are misplaced. According to data from the Aviation Safety Network, 2014 was actually the safest year for flying on record

"[ASN data shows that] there have been a total of 20 fatal airliner accidents this year — the lowest since ASN's records start in 1942," the Washington Post reports. While this data only includes commercial airliners with more than 14 passengers, the Post's Christopher Ingraham notes that "a larger database maintained by the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, which includes smaller flights, private aircraft and military planes, paints the exact same picture."

But while the number of air accidents were low, the Aviation Safety Network data shows that fatalities spiked in 2014.

Per the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 1,007 deaths for 2014 so far, a figure which includes only major commercial airliner accidents. The Washington Post notes that this elevated number is due to the AirAsia flight and the two Malaysia Air flights accounting for over half of those fatalities, with 699 deaths between them.

Put your flying anxiety to rest: Despite a year of horrifying air tragedies, there's never been a better time to fly. 

h/t Washington Post

Editor's Note: Feb. 25, 2015

An earlier version of this article cited reporting from the Washington Post, but did not include quotations around the cited passage. The story has been updated to fully attribute the Washington Post's language.