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):
- Air France-KLM
- AMR Corporation (American Airlines, American Eagle)
- British Airways
- Continental Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
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.
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.