U.S. airlines did not have a single fatality last year. It was the third time in the past four years there were no deaths, continuing a dramatic trend toward safer skies.
Years without deaths have occurred sporadically since the dawn of the jet age, but never have so many occurred in so short a period, according to an analysis of data from the National Transportation Safety Board. The average number of deaths fell from about 86 a year in the 1990s to 46 a year since 2000, a 46% drop.
Last year also marked the first time that there were no passenger fatalities on any airline based in developed nations, says Arnold Barnett, a professor who specializes in accident statistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.
Last year, U.S. carriers flew more than 10 million flights and hauled more than 700 million passengers, but only 14 people suffered serious injuries, according to the NTSB. There also were no major accidents, the most serious category under the NTSB's definitions.