THE HAGUE, Netherlands- A total of 556 people died in 15 plane crashes in 2018, significantly more than the previous year, but long-term trends show safety improving, an aviation watchdog reported.
The year 2017 was the safest year in aviation history with only 44 people killed in 10 airliner accidents, said the Aviation Safety Network (ASN).
Last year was still the third safest year in aviation history in terms of the number of fatal accidents and the ninth safest in terms of lives lost.
"If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year," said ASN chief executive Harro Ranter in a statement released Tuesday.
"This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety," he added.
Three of last year's deadly accidents involved operators blacklisted by the European Union.
A review of the last five years' figures showed that loss-of-control accidents were a major safety concern, responsible for 10 of the 25 deadliest crashes, the ASN added.
Last year's deadliest accident was the October 29 loss of a Boeing 737 plane operated by Lion Air, which crashed off Indonesia killing all 189 people on board.
A Global Air Boeing 737 went down near Havana airport, Cuba, killing 112 on May 18.
And on Feb. 11, an Antonov 148 operated by Saratov Airlines crashed in Moscow soon after take-off, killing all 65 passengers and six crew members.
The Hague-based Aviation Safety Network, a non-profit group set up in 1947, is part of the Flight Safety Foundation.