World's safest airlines? Finnair, Air NZ, Cathay Pacific & Emirates

By David Flynn, January 9 2013

Qantas was once considered the world's safest airline. We know this because Dustin Hoffman's savant Raymond Babbitt declared it so in Rain Man, leading to a cheer whenever the movie played in any Aussie cinema.

(For what it's worth, the scene in which Hoffman's character claims Qantas has never had an aircraft crash is allegedly cut when the movie is shown inflight by every airlines except Qantas.)

Fast forward to 2013, and Europe's Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) has revealed its list of the world's safest airlines – and no, the the Red Roo doesn't make the Top 10 this time around, although Virgin Australia manages to get a look-in.

JACDEC rates Finnair as the world's safest airline followed by Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Etihad.

Next on the list are Taiwan's EVA Air, Portugal's TAP, Hainan Airlines, Virgin Australia squeezing in at ninth place and BA rounding out the top 10.

JACDEC says their roster is "based on our annual safety calculations which include all hull loss accidents and serious incidents in the last 30 years of operations in relation to the revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) performed in the same time."

"We also took into account the international safety benchmarks such as the IOSA Audit and the USOAP country factor."

The agency reports a total of 44 'hull losses' in 2012 with 496 fatalities, and the JACDEC website can make for sobering reading. There's nothing like being greeted with a list of recent aircraft crashes and fatalities before you set off on your next trip!

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.

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

EVA Air??! 

Clearly someone hasn't heard what they've done in Anchorage!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1380

While I can understand that Qantas may have been marked down for QF32 (A380 engine explosion in 2010, albeit more an RR issue) and QF1 (747 runway overrun in Bangkok in part blamed on company policy), I cannot understand how Emirates makes the list given EK407 at Melbourne in 2009 which has been described "as close as we have ever come to a major aviation catastrophe in Australia" by aviation officials (Wikipedia quote) and classified as an accident by the ATSB, an accident seemingly blamed on pilot error and fatigue

The 30-yr limit also neatly exludes NZ901 or the Erebus incident

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 197

BA made the list despite a couple of major incidents:

BA38 landing short of the runway at LHR in 2008, making it the first 77E to be written off (though this was likely RR's fault).

BA5390 in 1990 suffered a windscreen blowout, pulling the captain halfway out the window.

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 15

What about Air Canada? They are consistently named as the world's safest in other reports?

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 128

are Emirates, Virgin Australia  ,Eva air and Etihad even 30 years old???

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

Yeah... my thoughts exactly. How does one do a survey and come up with these kinds of statements when the criteria for measuring isn't equal.... 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

Emirates is almost 30 years old, EVA Air is 23 years old and Virgin Australia & Etihad are about 10-12 years old.

QFF Gold QC gold

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 56

I could announce the 2012 Dingbat Airline Safety Awards and do whatever I like. Nobody would question it. It would mean nothing. It would probably be biased. The media will still pounce on it as if it were true.

In this case it is the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre I know but they seemed to have put airlines that have suffered fatalities ahead of Qantas. Really?

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

The paragraph where this group explains that the ratings are "based on our annual safety calculations which include all hull loss accidents and serious incidents in the last 30 years of operations in relation to the revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) performed in the same time."

That implies to me that they base the rating on averages on RPK per year, not overall. Maybe they could have explained it better but that's how I read this and it would seem to explain how airlines running for less than 30 years can be listed.

Lufthansa - Miles & More

11 Jan 2013

Total posts 1

Not complete, according to the business traveler : the most safest airline in the world is El Al

26 May 2012

Total posts 150

It is laughable that Qantas is not in the top 10.

Longest operating, never lost a passenger on a jet.

QantasFF

16 Nov 2012

Total posts 55

Well, you can't say they haven't been trying. Whenever you hear 'world's best practice, remember this is Qantas' jargon for 'minimum legal compliance'.

As Al said, as it is based on RPK it allowed some of the younger airlines into the mix. 

Full exerpt from their website below.

"Based on our annual safety calculations which include all hull loss accidents and serious incidents in the last 30 years of operations in relation to the revenue passsenger kilometers (RPK) performed in the same time. We also took into account the international safety benchmarks such as the IOSA Audit and the USOAP country factor. Furthermore we included a time weightening factor which increases the effect of recent accidents and weakening the impact of accidents in the past. All calculation data ends after a period of 30 years. Fatalities are only counted when they were on board a passenger flight. No ground casualties or 3rd party fatalities in other aircraft. All accidents that fulfills the above mentioned criteria were involved in our calculation, regardless of causes or responsibilities."

Also, for those wanting further information, "The complete list together with a comprehensive safety analysis of the past year with graphics, explanations and all relevant statistical data will be be available in the next issue of the german aviation magazine Aerointernational".

Also, this list doesn't appear to be officially recognised as the definitive safest airline list, so I wouldn't get too caught up with the specifics too much.


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