The Most Dangerous Countries In The World To Catch A Plane

Indonesia's Lion Air is far from the only airline with a chequered safety record.

As Indonesian investigators try to piece together how flight JT610 crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta on Monday, attention has turned to the budget carrier's safety record. Lion Air has had several incidents in recent years, including one accident where a pilot overshot a runway and the plane landed -- in pieces -- in the ocean.

A Lion Air plane after it crashed into the water as it overshot the runway at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport in April 2013. (EPA/INDONESIAN POLICE HANDOUT)

Lion Air was temporarily blacklisted from flying in the European Union -- a ban which was lifted in 2016 -- and in the wake of Monday's crash, Australian officials warned against flying on the carrier.

"Australian government officials and contractors have been instructed not to fly on Lion Air or their subsidiary airlines," a DFAT warning advised.

It adds to Indonesia's troubled aviation safety record, with several infamous and deadly crashes during the 1990s and early 2000s on Garuda Airlines.

In 2016, safety website AirlineRatings.com found Indonesia to have the lowest rating of any country -- nine of the 10 airlines to receive just one star out of seven were from Indonesia.

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But while developing countries with perhaps less than stringent safety guidelines might seem like the most likely to top the list of most dangerous countries to fly from, another country actually leads that unwanted list.

According to the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network listing, the United States has far and away had the most air accidents and deaths. In a collection of data reaching back to 1945, the ASN reported there had been at least 830 accidents and more than 10,000 fatalities in the USA.

Russia was second on the list, with 520 accidents and 8400 deaths, then Brazil, Colombia and Canada with around 180 crashes each.

The United Kingdom comes in sixth on the ASN list (105 crashes, 1289 deaths), India at 10th, and China at 11th. Australia places way down the list at number 21, with 49 crashes and 394 deaths since 1945.

It must be pointed out that the United States, while topping the list, had an established airline industry many years before some of the other countries on the list. The US also has a well-established, popular and accessible air industry used by millions every day, and the ASN ranking does not list the number of crashes or deaths per capita of population or as a percentage of total flights in that country.

ASN

The ASN also reports the number of airline accidents has been trending down since the early 1990s, with around 50 fatal accidents at the start of the decade, down to less than 20 in recent years.

ASN found just 59 casualties in 14 accidents in 2017, while 2014 -- the year of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines' MH17 and the loss of MH370 -- saw 692 casualties in 20 incidents.

ASN

The International Air Transport Association in 2017 found Africa was the most dangerous place to fly, per capita, in recent years. In the 2012-16 period, IATA found there were 2.21 major accidents per one million departures from operators based in Africa.

That was well above the 0.74 per million of the Middle East and North Africa, 0.48 per million of the Asia Pacific, 0.22 of North America and 0.14 of Europe.

IATA

The worst recorded plane crash in history occurred in Tenerife, Spain, in 1977 when KLM flight 4805 collided with Pan Am 1736 on the runway. The death toll was recorded at 583, including 560 passengers and 23 crew.

The crash of Japan Airlines flight 123 in 1985 (520 dead), the collision of Saudi Arabian Airlines 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines flight 190 in 1996 in India (349 dead), and the crash of Turkish Airlines flight 981 in France in 1974 (346 dead) are the next deadliest crashes.

The deadliest crash this decade -- besides the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine, the disappearance of MH370, and the bombing of a Russian Metrojet flight in 2015 -- came in April this year when an Algerian military transport plane crashed and killed all 257 onboard.

The Lion Air crash this week was actually the deadliest commercial airline crash this decade, with around 180 feared dead.