Speed Reads

Numbers don't lie

Surprisingly, 2014 was the safest year for air travel yet

Surprisingly, 2014 was the safest year for air travel yet

If the news of Sunday's AirAsia crash has you nervous about flying home after the holidays — or subsequent near-misses by a Virgin Atlantic flight in London and another AirAsia flight in the Philippines, or any of this year's other high-profile fatal commercial airliner incidents — you're probably not alone. But, according to The Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham, "2014 has been the safest year for flying since, well, ever."

The Post makes this assessment based on data from the Aviation Safety Network, which tracks fatal aircraft accidents involving commercial airliners carrying 14 or more passengers, and the federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, which also tracks military and smaller civilian aircraft. The Aviation Safety Network has added one more accident since Ingraham compiled this chart on Monday:

Still, 21 crashes is still the lowest number since 1942, when there were way, way fewer commercial flights. The numbers on airliner deaths aren't quite so reassuring — The Washington Post counts a modestly high 1,007 deaths, 699 of them from the AirAsia crash and two Malaysian Airlines flights. And the figures overall aren't so great if you are flying in Asia: As Bloomberg News notes, 2014 is shaping up to be the worst years ever for Asian aviation. But in general, the numbers are another reminder that headlines don't tell the whole story.