Skip to content

Report: 2023 One Of Aviation’s Safest Years

Photo Courtesy John McArthur

Aviation had many highlights in 2023. Several of them were sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) milestones and aviation policies championing renewable energy solutions at airports — the best one: zero large jet-plane crashes.

A report in Simple Flying said there were no aviation accidents involving turbofan-powered aircraft, the standard passenger airliners — a record for a calendar year in aviation. That’s not to say there weren’t smaller planes that crashed; however, those involved non-jet-powered aircraft. 

The most serious incident happened in Nepal. While approaching Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, Yeti Flights Airline 691 encountered a mechanical issue, stalled out, and crashed. It involved a turboprop plane, and the loss of life was incredibly tragic — 72 people. It was the worst aviation accident of 2023 but the only catastrophic crash. For context, 2022 experienced six major turbofan plane accidents that resulted in fatalities.  

Data collected by the Aviation Safety Network measured 62 incidents in the U.S. Almost all involved some kind of turboprop jet or private aircraft. Scroll through the list, and you will find many zeros followed by 1 or 2 fatalities. Most damage reported was minimal or suboptimal. 

Photo Courtesy Nafis Al Sadnan

Statistically speaking, it’s safer to fly than drive or take the drain. There are a few reasons: more space between aircraft in the sky, better observationalists and accident prevention involved with Air Traffic Control, more computer-automated flying systems, and a smaller ratio of passenger accidents per 100 million people. 

Here’s another crazy statistic: Around 40% of 21st-century American aviation deaths occurred in 2001. The numbers have fluctuated since then, but the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics still shows a decline in injuries and fatalities.

Why isn’t the train safer than a plane? Trains still require human interference if they need to slow down, unlike planes with autopilot. American railroads also need repair, as shown by freight train derailments last year. 

Some, like the East Palestine crash, caused serious HAZMAT and environmental problems, but 2023 also saw a low number of passenger train derailments. The most high-profile was an Amtrak derailed train in Washington, D.C. No passengers were injured, with the biggest issue being service disruptions.

The safety milestones followed several SAF achievements. Virgin Atlantic Airlines completed a 100% SAF-powered transatlantic flight from London to New York. Hydrogen aviation startup ZeroAvia and H2FLY completed test flights for their respective hydrogen-fuel aircraft. More airports agreed to scale up sustainable fuel projects globally. NASA and Boeing plan to build a more fuel-efficient jet. These are just a few examples; many more SAF and low-emission aircraft innovations occurred in 2023. 

Aviation safety improvement is still necessary, especially in light of the Alaska Airlines debacle at the beginning of 2024. Updates to standards and procedures are continually implemented, but the sad part is they usually happen after incidents take place. 

Air travel is still working to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic travel shutdown but has encountered labor issues and supply chain problems. However, according to recent data, flying in the U.S. is very safe, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. The aviation industry is now working on becoming more planet-friendly, too. 


Back To Top