BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday January 7, 2016 – An annual survey of the world’s airlines has revealed those with the worst safety records, and Suriname’s Bluewing Airlines has the dubious distinction of making the cut.
The lists were compiled by AirlineRatings.com, an independent plane safety and product rating website.
The website provided safety ratings for 407 airlines, awarding them up to seven stars for safety. Of those surveyed, more than 100 were given the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 had just three stars or less.
The website’s star ratings take multiple factors into account, including whether an airline has been certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), if it is on the EU’s airline blacklist, its crash record and whether the fleet has been grounded over safety concerns.
A star is automatically deducted if an airline has a crash that involves the death of anyone on board, while a star is also removed if the airline operates only Russian-made aircraft.
AirlineRatings.com examined audits from aviation governing bodies and lead associations, as well as government audits and fatality records for each airline. It also looked at airlines’ operational histories, incident records and operational excellence.
Ten airlines, all from Indonesia, Nepal and Suriname, were deemed worthy of only one star for safety. They included the Paramaribo-based Bluewing Airlines, and Batik Air, one of whose planes reportedly skidded off the runway at Indonesia’s Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto airport last November.
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) January 7, 2016
The 2016 rankings follow a troubling year for aviation that included two significant disasters, both of which rekindled concerns about security and pilots’ mental wellbeing.
For the second year running, the main cause of aviation deaths in 2015 was “unlawful interference,” according to a report by leading air safety firm To70.
The consultancy cited the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ MH370 and MH17, the latter of which was shot down over Ukraine in 2015, as well as the Germanwings and Metrojet crashes in the Alps and Sinai respectively.
In March 2015, a Germanwings Airbus A320-211 crashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. It was later revealed that pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had suicidal tendencies, had deliberately caused the crash.
AirlineRatings.com editor Geoffrey Thomas explained that Germanwings has retained its seven star safety rating for 2016 because the incident was caused by pilot suicide.
“In our rating system, which is endorsed by aviation’s governing body the International Civil Aviation Organisation, if deaths occurred through acts of terrorism, high jacking or pilot suicide, they are not included in the crash record,” he said
Under this system, Malaysia Airlines, which suffered two incidents that left all passengers on board dead or missing in 2014, was given five stars out of a possible seven in the ratings.
Other airlines nevertheless have records that prompted AirlineRatings.com to award them lower safety ratings.
Iraqi Airways was last month banned from operating in EU airspace, due to “unaddressed safety concerns” according to EU officials. AirlineRatings.com awarded the carrier a two-star safety rating.
Thailand’s aviation industry was placed under “special measures” last year after issues were flagged up by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Carriers including Thai Airways, which AirlineRatings.com awarded four out of seven stars for safety, were spared being placed on the EU blacklist, but officials said they would “closely monitor future developments” and would consider bans if air passenger safety was at risk.
Overall, and despite some high profile aviation disasters in 2015, the total of 16 major accidents with 560 fatalities was below the 10-year average of 31 accidents and 714 fatalities. It was also an improvement on 2014, when there were 21 serious accidents with 986 fatalities.