Safety reports from IATA for 2015 indicate that the level of safety in the industry remains high and rates remain below the average of the previous five years.  There were six fatal crashes in 2015, two with jets and four with turboprops.  The two involving jets, Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268, which accounted for 347 fatalities, are not counted in IATA statistics because the former was a pilot suicide and the latter suspected terrorism, and cannot be attributed directly to the airlines involved.

The risk of an accident from mechanical difficulties or airline operations continues to improve to a level of one in over three million flights resulting in a hull loss.  The four accidents involving fatalities all involved turboprops, with 136 fatalities.  Perhaps this influences the passenger preference for jet aircraft.

In one of the incidents, after an engine failure, the pilots shut off the working engine, resulting in an accident that should never have happened.  With younger and less well trained pilots flying turboprops for regional operations, training and experience may influence safety.

The five year average is for 17.2 accidents and 504 fatalities annually, so the 2015 performance was well below average.  Even if the 347 additional fatalities from terrorist related events were included, the total of 483 deaths was below the average of the prior five years.

Unfortunately, the two terror-related incidents reflect the nature of the industry today, coming just after two Malaysian Airlines incidents in 2014, with one airline inexplicably lost at sea and another shot down in a war zone.  These incidents, unfortunately, gain substantial media attention and generate further interest in using terrorism as a weapon against airliners.

Airlines have done a great job at reducing the internal threats with better training and mechanical reliability.  The agenda is now continuing to shift to security, since terror-related attacks led to more fatalities than any other source in 2015.

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