The international civil aviation sector has been rocked by three tragedies in the past few days, following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and crashes involving Air Algerie flight AH5017 and TransAsia Airways flight GE222.
The combined death toll from the three incidents reached a staggering 464, including many families.
In a statement, Tony Tyler, CEO and director general of International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed the industry’s shock at the tragedies. “Our heartfelt sorrow goes to all those who have lost their lives in these tragedies,” he said.
“Every accident is one too many. The greatest respect that we can pay to the memory of those involved is to leave nothing unturned in our quest to understand the cause and to take steps to ensure that it is not repeated,” he said.
In the case of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the aircraft was shot down by an earth-to–air missile over eastern Ukraine while en-route from Amsterdam to Malaysia on July 17. A lot of the passengers on board were tourists.
On July 23, a short-haul TransAsia flight GE 222 originating from the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung crashed in Penghu, about a half mile from the runway of Magong Airport due to stormy weather. Only 10 out of the 54 passengers and four crew-members survived the accident.
A day later, on July 24, Air Algérie flight AH5017, flying from the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou to Algiers, crashed near the Mali-Burkina Faso border, killing all the 118 people it was carrying. Nearly half of the passengers on board were French nationals.
The three tragedies also come just about four months after another Malaysia Airline flight, MH370, travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared over the sea with 239 people on board.
While the continuous string of airline accidents has led to questions about aviation safety, IATA’s Tyler asserted that the industry’s first priority was safety.
“Flying is safe,” he stated. “Every day, approximately 100,000 flights take to the sky and land without incident. In 2013 more than three billion people flew and there were 210 fatalities. Regrettably, we have surpassed that number already this year. But even so, getting on an aircraft is still among the safest activities that one can do.
“Safeguarding our customers from harm as we transport them around the world is core to the mission of the aviation industry. It has been that way throughout our development over the last century. And we continue to do everything in our power to make flying ever safer,” he added.