2014 – Worst in Aviation History


With several air tragedies happening this year, the question has arisen if 2014 worst in aviation history. Last Sunday, when the world was ready to face another year, air traffic controllers lost one an aircraft of Malaysian airline AirAsia early morning on its way to Singapore from Indonesia, with 162 people on board. The aircraft never reached its destination, and search operations are ongoing. Flight disasters are dreadful. Commercial flights, especially, have more victims, and missing planes are difficult to locate when it involves vast bodies of unfriendly and dark oceans.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 marks the first shocking air disaster this year. With 239 people on board, it was lost from air traffic controls early of March 8. Many countries from all over the world joined the search for the missing aircraft. Search operations are long and expensive, but the aircraft is still not found.

Barely four months after, a series of flight disasters happened in just a week. A plane from the same airline, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot above a war-torn Ukraine airspace on July 17, killing 298 people. Five days after, a Taiwanese aircraft crashed in heavy winds and rains on July 23 on Penghu island, when the pilots could not see the runway. Out of 58 people on board, only 10 survived. As if those were not enough, Swiftair’s Air Algerie AH5017 crashed near the Burkina Faso border on July 24 amidst a rainstorm, leading 116 people to their grave.

When the world was ready to leave the year behind, another air disaster was catching up on the final week of 2014 – AirAsia QZ8501, which, after asking permission from air traffic controllers to change route due to bad weather conditions, was lost from radar early of December 28. Another incident is added to the 2014 air tragedy records. 2014 appears the worst in aviation history.

According to the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives in Geneva, aviation disasters in 2014 already claimed 1326 lives, recording MH17 as the worst crash. This year has the most number of aviation deaths since 2005, and ends the supposed steady improvement of safety global aviation. The records of the Aviation Safety Network say, since 1945, 2013 is recorded the safest year in aviation with only 265 fatalities.

In terms of number of crashes, 2014 has 112 in the BAAA record, the 87th worst year in terms of crashes, followed by 1927, which has 111. The mere number of crashes says flying today is safer, said Analyst Kane Ray of global aviation consulting firm International Bureau of Aviation.

Hence, 2014 have the most deaths in aviation disaster since 2005 but the lowest number in plane crash count in 80 years, according to the BAAA record. Statistics shows flying is still safer than driving. However, Asia may really have 2014 as a bad year when it comes to air disasters.

The question if 2014 worst in aviation history is perhaps a yes, at least in Southeast Asia, which gets the hit out of almost 900 deaths in air tragedies around the world. For Malaysia, 2014 is terribly unimaginable. Bad weather is one of the contributing factors of air tragedies this year; but one crash was due to mechanical problems and two planes were shot down in Ukraine.

By Judith Aparri

Voice of America
The New York Times

Photo courtesy of Christian Junker – AHKGAP – Flickr License

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