New ratings rank the safest airlines and the safest aircraft

Photo (c) Wittayayut - Getty Images

Of particular consumer interest is the good rating that many of the low-cost airlines received

The latest ratings are out for both the world’s safest airlines and the safest aircraft. Given what’s happened in the last couple of weeks with Boeing’s 737 MAX catastrophes, the timing couldn’t be better.

Compiling data from 405 airlines it monitors, AirlineRatings’s study took into account a range of factors including government and industry audits, crash and serious incident records, profitability, industry-leading safety initiatives, and fleet age.

First, the airlines

Qantas got the nod as the “world’s safest airline for 2019” by, an airline industry safety and product website.

Here are the Top 20 finishers (in alphabetical order):

Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, and United Airlines, and the Virgin group of airlines (Atlantic and Australia).

“These airlines are standouts in the industry and are at the forefront of safety, innovation, and launching of new aircraft,” said AirlineRatings’ Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.

Given the growth of low-cost airlines, Thomas’ research team went a step further and identified the Top 10 in that arena, too. Those, in alphabetical order, are Flybe, Frontier, HK Express, Jetblue, Jetstar Australia / Asia, Thomas Cook, Volaris, Vueling, Westjet, and Wizz.

The aircraft

In AirlineRatings 2019 list, there are nine commercial “pure jet aircraft” that can claim to be the world’s safest for the simple reason that they have a fatality-free record. The list includes the following planes:

  • Boeing 717 (formerly the MD95). Its primary users are Delta, Qantas, Hawaiian, and Volotea

  • CRJ700/900/1000 regional jet. Its primary users are SkyWest, PSA, Endeavor, and Mesa Airlines.

  • A380 superjumbo. This aircraft is the world’s largest passenger airliner, and its primary users include Emirates, Singapore, Lufthansa, and British Airways.

  • Boeing 787. The aircraft counts among its primary users All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, American Airlines, and United.

  • Boeing 747-8. This 9-year-old aircraft’s primary passenger users are Lufthansa and Korean Air.

  • Airbus A350. Among the aircraft’s primary users are Qatar, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and China Airlines.

  • Airbus 220 - Bombardier C Series. The main airlines flying this jet are Delta, airBaltic, Korean Air, and Swiss International.

  • Airbus A340. Primary users are Lufthansa, Iberia, South African Airways, and Mahan Air.

  • Airbus A320 NEO. This aircraft’s main owners are IndiGo, AirAsia, Frontier Airlines, and GoAir. A quick side note: the A320 is the aircraft with wingtips that look like shark fins.

AirlineRatings noted that other aircraft with excellent safety records are the Boeing 737NG series with 0.08 fatal crashes per one million departures (PMD), the Boeing 767 (0.10), the Airbus A320 series (0.10), the Boeing 777 (0.18), the Boeing 757 (0.20) and the Airbus A330 (0.19).

“These accident rates are a fraction of those recorded by the first jets such as the Boeing 707, which has a fatal crash rate of 4.28 per million departures,” AirlineRatings found in its study.

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