### Are bigger planes more deadly?

By Ian

I have no idea, really, but in the course of some work I ran across the following chart and was instantly fascinated:

Airline Accident Trends 1945-2004

(Source: PDF) Note that these numbers *exclude* non-accident occurances such as bombing and hijacking.

The left hand ordinate is the number of fatalities, and the right-hand ordinate is the number of accidents. While the trend indicates that the number of accidents has been on quite a descent, what I find more interesting is that the ratio of accidents:fatalities converges, but doesn't (on average) reverse, 1985 and 1997. After an increase in the number of fatalities through to the mid 70s, the number has returned to numbers just below the 40s. But the number of accidents is almost a third of what it was during the same time.

Not being overly familiar with the aviation industry, the only trends I'm familiar with are the growth in plane size, and the alternating shift to, and now more recently from, hub-based route architecture. With larger planes, each accident will claim more lives. (Which is similar to my retort about people who talk incessantly about flying being safer than driving -- I've spent a good portion of my life on a plane and have never had a fear of flying, but when you have a car crash, you don't often lose 280 people at once. *In the event of an accident*, I'd much rather take my chances in an automobile. I don't think I have the luck to come out this well.) Any ideas?

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