Donald Trump takes credit for zero passenger flight deaths in 2017

Harriet Agerholm,Julia Buckley
Tuesday 02 January 2018 15:31
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Donald Trump has suggested he has improved the safety of aeroplanes, saying he has "been very strict on commercial aviation" since becoming US President.

As The Independent was first to report, Dutch-based aviation consultancy To70 on Monday released its annual Civil Aviation Safety Review that reported only two fatal accidents, both involving small turbo-prop aircraft, with a total of 13 lives lost.

No jets crashed in passenger service anywhere in the world. The two crashes that occurred on New Year’s Eve – a seaplane in Sydney which killed six, and a Cessna Caravan which crashed in Costa Rica, killing all 12 on board – were not included in the tally, since both aircraft weighed under 5,700kg — the threshold for the report.

"Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!" he said in a Tuesday afternoon Twitter post.

According to Adrian Young, the safety review's lead researcher, the chances of a plane being involved in a fatal accident is now one in 16 million.

Mr Young, a senior aviation consultant for To70, on Monday described the improved safety level of civil aviation as "remarkable", but warned the historic low was unlikely to be maintained.

He told The Independent that the positive figures could be taken as "good fortune", cautioning: "The risks to civil aviation remain high as shown by the seriousness of some of the non-fatal accidents.”

He warned that electronic devices in checked-in hold luggage pose a growing danger, as they are "difficult to extinguish if they catch fire". Crews are being trained to put out fires in the cabin, he said, but checking electronics into the hold could risk dangerous repercussions.

Pilots have already warned of the "catastrophic" potential of the Trump administration's electronics ban.

In March, the US Department of Homeland Security suddenly announced a ban on laptops and other electronic devices bigger than a mobile phone on flights from 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports to the US. The UK immediately followed with a similar ban.

Laurie Price, former Aviation Advisor to the Transport Select Committee and himself a private pilot, told The Independent at the time: "We have had numerous incidents of devices with lithium batteries suddenly bursting into flames. If that is in the aircraft cabin, it can be dealt with. If in the aircraft hold, the fire-suppression systems are unlikely to be able to contain it and there is a lot of material to exacerbate such fires including other baggage, the aircraft structure, fuel and systems in an area which is inaccessible in flight.

"The consequences could be catastrophic."

The US lifted the ban in July, but soon began rolling out "additional checks" on international flights on non-US airlines arriving into the country.

On 26 October, airlines introduced new security measures for flights going to America.

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