Qantas has been named the world’s safest airline, after a year when fatal air accidents soared above the 10-year average.
In a report published by AirlineRatings.com on Tuesday night, Qantas was lauded for amassing “an extraordinary record of firsts” in safety and operations over its 94-year history.
The report comes after what was “in no doubt” a bad year for airline safety, AirlineRatings.com said, adding 2014 included some of the industry’s most tragic and bizarre incidents.
“Certainly, 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities – higher than the 10-year average – is sickening. However, the world’s airlines carried a record 3.3 billion passengers on 27 million flights,” the report says.
AirlineRatings.com said the high number of deaths came despite the number of accidents for 2014 being at a record low 21 – one for every 1.3 million flights. “Two of the crashes last year – MH370 and MH17 – were unprecedented in modern times and claimed 537 lives,” the report says.
“Flashback 50 years and there were a staggering 87 crashes killing 1,597 when airlines carried only 141 million passengers – five per cent of today’s number.”
Qantas, which AirlineRatings.com said was now also accepted as the world’s most experienced airline, was praised as the leader in terms of real-time monitoring of its engines across its fleet using satellite communications. “Doing so allows the airline to detect problems before they become a major safety issue,” the report says.
Famously, a scene from the 1988 film Rain Man depicted Dustin Hoffman’s character explain to Tom Cruise that Qantas is the safest way to travel.
Making up the remainder of the top 10 in alphabetical order were Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
AirlineRatings.com’s rating system takes into account a range of factors related to audits from aviations governing bodies as well as government audits and the airlines fatality record.
Qantas, which has a fatality-free record in the jet era, was described as a leader in the development of an avionics system that provides a direct data link communication between the pilot and the air traffic controller, as well as the development of flight data recorders to monitor plane and crew performance.
The report rates 449 airlines, including low-cost carriers, with Jetstar making the top 10 of the later group. The top 10 low-cost carriers in alphabetical order were Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Jetstar, Jetblue, Kulula.com, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook, TUI Fly and Westjet.