WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Last year was the second straight year without one airline passenger death, a first since the late 1950s, an analysis of federal and industry data indicated.
No passengers died in accidents in either 2007 or 2008, a span in which commercial airliners carried 1.5 billion passengers on scheduled flights, USA Today reported Monday the analysis showed.
Only one major accident occurred during that period, December's crash of a Continental Airlines jet in Denver.
The newspaper's analysis indicates a crash fatality-free year is rare. Only four years since 1958 have gone by without a passenger fatality, making the 2007-2008 statistic even more impressive, aviation experts said.
"It's a new record," says Arnold Barnett, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and airline fatality risks author. "While it doesn't mean risk is now non-existent, it certainly means they have done a fantastic job at keeping all these threats at bay."
Fatality risk fell to 68 per billion fliers this decade, less than half the risk in the 1990s, National Transportation Safety Board data indicates. Since 2002, the risks of dying on a flight plunged to 19 per billion passengers, an 86 percent drop from the 1990s.