Is Qantas still the world's safest airline?

By David Flynn , January 7 2014
Is Qantas still the world's safest airline?

25 years after the movie Rain Man gave the Qantas a big-screen serve of global PR as the airline that has "never crashed", aviation safety review website AirlinerRatings.com says the Flying Kangaroo remains the world's safest airline.

Qantas tops a list which also includes Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, all of which hold the website's 'seven star' safety rating.

"Qantas continues to lead the world’s airlines in safety with no fatalities in the jet era" says AirlineRatings editor and respected aviation journalist Geoffrey Thomas.

"Over its 93 year history the airline has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in safety and operations."

Thankfully, none of the site's "ten worst airlines" of 2013 – a list topped by Afghanistan airline Kam Air – operate in Australia.

"As 2013 came to a close it could be said that absent of a major tragic crash the year was the safest for flying since 1945, with only 269 deaths from 29 accidents" Thomas reflects.

"The most miraculous escape was for the 304 passengers and crew that walked away from the spectacular crash of the Asiana Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport in July," Thomas notes.

Only three passengers died in the incident, one of whom escaped the crash but was tragically run over by a fire engine while she lay beneath an aircraft wing covered with firefighting foam.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards platnium

30 Nov 2013

Total posts 43

What about QF63 and where are Hawaiian and va they have no crash history!

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1256

What happened to QF63?

02 May 2013

Total posts 3

I believe the airlineratings.com editor, Mr Thomas, is a QANTAS Chairman Lounge Member and subsequently probably has a axe to grind against VA....

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2405

And your evidence to back up this claim, The ManInSeat0A..?

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1256

The airlineratings.com editor is Geoffrey Thomas, I've read plently of articles from him being critical of Qantas. In relation to the Chairmans Lounge, in a letter to Steve Purnivas in 2011 he states, "Yes I am a QF FF with silver status... And for the record yes Qantas does from time to time provide me travel to industry functions however I prefer to stay at home and would reject the majority of the trips offered by airlines in general. However in many cases I actually pay for my trips as it is policy for a number of the organizations I do work for.  With regard to the Chairman’s lounge yes seen it twice in Perth to do interviews with Joyce and to set up a TV shoot for Channel 7."

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2405

Exactly so... I've been on trips with Geoff, so I've seen him whip out his Qantas frequent flyer card at check-in etc – it's NOT Chairman's Lounge Black, it's not even Platinum-level.

The ManInSeat0A: sensible discussion of an issue are welcome here, but petty and unfounded comments about a person are not.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 160

Korean Airlines a Seven Star rating?  Please!!  Have to be kidding.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Yep, Korean Air responsible for 700 or so death (last fatal accident in 1999) and Royal Jordanian responsible for 400+ deaths (last in 1979) here while Finnair with 50 years of no-crash history missed. Also I have feeling that for example British Airways SIGNIFICANTLY safer then both Korean and Jordan (last death in 1976) especially considering it size (270 aircrafts) while Korean has 150 and Jordan measly 33. And I am sure some may pick even more “anomalies”. Bizarre…

QFF

06 Nov 2012

Total posts 47

Unless I'm reading the explanatory notes wrong, Korean Air can't qualify for 7 points as there is no ICAO country audit.  The whole ratings process on this site seems somewhat arbitary with some apparent anomalies.

02 Jan 2013

Total posts 142

I cant help but think Qantas has had many potential crashes in the past which would make them a liability or a risk to fly if you're looking at it from a maintenance point of view...or am I wrong?

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

So far so good, but you do have the point. Frankly many companies have plenty of “almost misses”. You may blame whomever you like, but I personally blame deregulation and globalization. Expect more examples everywhere if more and more “major” services will be done “off shore”

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Apr 2013

Total posts 14

I dissagree. I have a feeling I will be slammed for saying this, but the recent few issues Qantas have experienced have made me even more inclined to fly with them.  There will always be technological failures, it's inevitable with such complicated machines for any airline. The thing about Qantas is the people and despite the recent bad press for Qantas I still believe their pilots are some of the best in the world. If anyone hasn't I seriously suggest you read QF32. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

Surprised nobody has mentioned QF1 - This non-crash crash was probably the closest QF has come.

22 Jun 2013

Total posts 98

Presumably you mean QF32? This is precisely why Qantas is such a safe airline. The aircraft suffered failures to many systems and perhaps shouldn't have made it, and yet the pilots were able to land the aircraft without a single injury or casualty. The pilots' training kicked in and no one was hurt in the end. That's why you can be sure that you're in very safe hands when you fly with Qantas. Sure there are cheaper airlines out there, but frankly I'd rather pay the premium knowing (insofar as is possible) I will walk off the aircraft unscathed. There is a fascinating ABC Four Corners documentary on this flight, certainly worth a watch.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1256

No, he probably means QF1 over-running the runway in Bangkok- around 1999 I think?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

Correct. I meant QF1.
https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/2009/behind-the-qf1-investigation.aspx  

Al
Al

13 Sep 2012

Total posts 5

Qantas has never had a fatality flying a jet for two main reasons:

  1. It is essentially a domestic carrier flying around in a country which has JUST reached a population of 23 million, with no major weather hazards and is based at an airport with a bedtime!
  2. It has a handfull of international flights (soon to be none) - all of which are long distance which is statistically much safer than short haul.

Something which is not noted in the media i belive is that no major airlines have crashed in Australia with any fatalities. Considering how many international airlines (especially asian carriers) fly into and out of the country on a daily basis, the constant focus on Qantas is bizzare. What's the reason for all the other airlines, supposedly sub standard, never coming down flying in/out of Oz?

The fact is that Australia is very safe to fly in and out of. And i also believe that it is very insensitive to all those who have died in air crashes around the world to keep bleating on about Qantas. Yes, there have been air crashes caused due to outright neglect, however, it is not always the case, some have just been fate. There is no utopia and we have learnt from every crash.

I also find it slightly ridiculous when people talk about how if what happened to QF32 had happened to any other airline then everyone would be dead. Until it happens on another airline then it's all just conjecture! 

The 'halo' over Qantas needs to be dimmed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Apr 2013

Total posts 14

Considering your reference to statistics I feel inclined to point out that flying to Australia makes up a statistically small component of other airlines flights and as such it is not surprising that none of them have crashed here. Additionally making the argument that short haul is statistically less safe than long haul weakens your argument because, by your own admission, Qantas primarily flies domestic short haul.

In reference to QF32, it can be used as an example of outstanding airmanship without being directly compared to other airlines.

I don't think Australia is very safe to fly in and out of by accident or simply because of our weather. Saying that fails to recognise the efforts of many people, and airlines, over the last 100 years who developed such safe and controlled flying. I'm not trying to put Qantas on a pedestal, nor am I criticising other airlines who have had major crashes. I just don't think Qantas's safety record is a simple as their geographic location and route network.

22 Jun 2013

Total posts 98

As extremely sad as it was, I think one could look at what happened to AF447 and compare it to QF32. Of course the two incidents are very different, however, at the same time there are similarities. Bottom line being, there were failures to some/many of the aircrafts' systems. In the case of QF32, training kicked in and outstanding airmanship was displayed. In the case of AF447, ineptitude was displayed, panic set in and by the time they realised that their response was the exact opposite of what they should have done, it was too late. The two contrasting outcomes must surely come back to training and professionalism. And therefore I find it hard to argue with the assertion that Qantas pilots are some of the best in the world and that you're in very safe hands onboard Qantas


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Is Qantas still the world's safest airline?