The world’s 10 ‘safest airlines’ revealed

A European Agency has compared the safety culture of airlines based on a set of holistic criteria, instead of focusing on accident rates.

The world's 10 'safest airlines' revealed

US and European carriers have topped a list of the world’s 10 safest airlines, based on a new scientific study by the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA), which published its findings on Monday.

The Geneva-based agency has identified a new, “holistic” approach to ranking the overall safety of commercial airlines, instead of using single criteria, such as accident rates to judge an airline’s safety record.

The agency has used a set of 15 criteria to compare the safety culture of airlines, using factors that it says contributes to overall flight safety either directly or indirectly. These criteria include: number of accidents in the past 10 years; net financial result; average fleet age; total number of aircraft and employees; percentage of aircraft on order; total aircraft-km flown; in-house maintenance capability; number of dedicated full flight simulators and fleet homogeneity.

ATRA’s 10 safest airlines (in alphabetical order):

Note: The rankings are based on analysis of 2009 data.

The study, which looks at the number of passengers carried by airlines, suggests why major carriers might dominate the list.

ATRA says it operates independently of the aviation industry, regulatory authorities and trade unions. It calls the new holistic safety rating the “white list”.

Separately, the European Union has an infamous blacklist of unsafe airlines that are banned Europewide, or permitted to enter European airspace subject to restrictions or conditions.

The blacklist – which was last updated in April 2011- is based on “common criteria”- such as evidence that an airline has “serious safety deficiencies” or a lack of ability or willingness to address safety issues. The risk assessment also applies to authorities responsible for overseeing carriers.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) evaluates countries, and not carriers when judging whether they meet international aviation standards. For more information click here.

Tell us:

What are your thoughts on the latest study and these findings? Are you surprised by the airlines featured on the list? How much of a consideration is an airline’s safety record when choosing which airline you fly with? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please post your comments below.

What others have said

  1. This is an interesting report, but it raises more questions than answers. I do not know whether the researchers were commissioned by the listed airlines or they were working independently. Going by recent incidents, Air France-KLM have challenges with their pilot training. British Airways are one of the very few airlines which have serious incidents with the Boeing 777. In Africa, we have airlines with much older fleets, but high safety records. As such, I do not understand where there is more to this listing than mere safety.

  2. In the article is mentioned that “The agency has used a set of 15 criteria” for comparison, some of these are: number of accidents net financial result; average fleet age; percentage of aircraft on order; in-house maintenance capability; number of flight simulators etc.
    If we compare by accidents, I can say that majority of carriers mentioned above had at least one major accident in the last 10 years (BA-2008, Air France-2009,Continental-2008, Delta-1988, Lufthansa-1993 etc).
    If we compare by fleet age, I can see that there are many middle east carriers that have a younger fleet (like Qatar, Etihad, Emirates etc). If we consider A/C on order, same all middle east airlines have hundreds of A/C on order (Emirates being the biggest customer for A380). Again , in terms of maintenance capabilities and flight simulators, Emirates are one of the most important players in the market.

    In the light of above evidence, my question is this is a political survey or a real one ?

  3. While I agree that British Airways should be high up on this list, Air France should be completely off the page!

    I have always felt safe on a British Airways plane, which is perhaps mostly down to their family appeal.

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