Last year was a record year for air safety, per industry research, which noted the absence of a single commercial plane crash anywhere in the world. Helicopters and private, cargo or military planes were left out of the equation, but the numbers still sing considering the record number of flights criss-crossing the skies. But even while flying — already statistically the safest means of travel — grows even safer, plenty of serious accidents still happen mid-air. This includes a September 2017 engine failure that forced the emergency landing of a Air France A380 jumbo, and an American Airlines flight struck by such severe turbulence that 10 people were injured.
In some high-growth regions, including Asia, there’s a significant demand for air travel, but a shortage of qualified pilots; in others, outdated technology, lax oversight and inclement weather make safe take-offs and landings a matter of luck. Fortunately, a growing body of aviation watchdogs, including Australia’s AirlineRatings.com, England’s SKYTRAX and Germany’s JACDEC, are keeping close tabs on which carriers are complying with international audits and standards. Rankings vary somewhat between aggregators, but that’s where we come into play. Read on for our take on the world’s most dangerous carriers, each of which boasts a safety record so spotty you might think twice before boarding the plane.
10. Lion Air
Airline unsafety rankings used to include an outsized proportion of Indonesian carriers, so much so that, until recently, most were banned from landing in the EU or United States. That’s changed of late, owing to growing adherence to international standards, though some passengers understandably retain a healthy sense of skepticism. Much of the worry stems from several incidents of Indonesian pilots flying high on drugs, including a 2013 incident when a Lion Air pilot reportedly mistook the nearby sea for part of the runway. Just last year, after Garuda and other Indonesian carriers were given a green light to fly in international air space, a different Lion Air captain was found with meth in his system.