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Falling Aviation safety by the numbers

Recent years have been the safest but not 2014

July has been a dangerous month for airline passengers. 
The month hasn't quite ended and there's already been three major crashes, resulting in 464 deaths, flights to Tel Aviv were cancelled because of safety concerns over the fighting in Gaza and, on Friday, F-16 jets were scrambled to escort a Sunwing Boeing 737 back to Toronto after a passenger allegedly made threats to flight safety.
And we still don't really know what happened to Malaysia Airline Flight MH370, which disappeared mysteriously on March 8 with 239 people onboard, setting off an international hunt in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Statistics Sources: Flightglobal, IATA, OAG (formerly Official Airline Guide)

Airlines accidents are rare, and 2013 was, in fact the safest year on record for air travel, measured by the death toll.  
But 2014 has already broken the improving aviation safety pattern of recent years. The death toll so far this year already surpasses the number for each of the three previous years.
Here's a quick look at aviation safety by the numbers. All statistics below are worldwide, unless stated otherwise. 

Some context

Last year, three billion people flew on 36.4 million flights.
This month, July 2014, has 2.9 million scheduled flights and 395 million scheduled global airline seats. That's a two per cent increase in flights and a four per cent increase in seats from last July.
Only 18 per cent of the world's airports have an average of more than 50 scheduled flights per day.
The busiest airspace in the world is above Atlantic City International Airport on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. (40° N, 75° W). Each day, some 5,500 flights cross those coordinates.

The outlook for aviation safety

An international survey of 2,000 aviation personnel by Flightglobal in the fall of 2013 identified certain issues these individuals considered "significant threats" to airline safety:
  • 38 per cent said fatigue/work practice involving pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers;
  • 33 per cent said a shortage of experienced personnel;
  • 28 per cent cited complacency;
  • 27 per cent identified airline management experience, attitude and/or culture.
Just over half, 52 per cent of those surveyed, expected airline safety would improve, while 13 per cent said it would get worse over the next five years.