Aviation safety site AirlineRatings.com assesses over 435 airlines, taking into account the following factors:
Recent fatalities of the crew or passengers can indicate that the airline has an aircraft that needs replacing or systems that need upgrading. This doesn't include acts of terrorism, high jackings, pilot suicide, or any fatal accident through no fault of the airline’s own.
AirlineRatings assesses over 11,000 incidents from airlines around the world and accounts for trends like runway overruns, which occur when the aircraft is unable to stop once they reach the end of the runway.
The governing bodies and lead associations that audit the airline will differ based on its country of origin.
AirlineRatings uses the Operational Safety Audit from the International Air Transport Association (IOSA) as a benchmark. The IOSA is the global industry standard for operational safety and uses internationally recognised audit principles to assess an airline.
They also use the International Civil Aviation Organisation country audit to ensure compliance with safety, security, and environmental protection regulations.
Airlines that do not meet international aviation operational safety standards will not be allowed into certain country’s airspace. This includes airlines banned as part of the EU Blacklist or those banned in European airspace due to poor aircraft maintenance concerns or regulatory oversight. They also take into consideration bans conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
While older aircraft are not necessarily a problem, it can cost more in maintenance to ensure their safety. If the aircraft is older and hasn't been maintained or refurbished properly, it can cause safety issues like the aircraft overheating or faulty air conditioning.
Airlines are also assessed based on how they adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, as well as if they:
- Provide COVID-19 information on their website
- Provide face masks
- Ensure cabin crew wear face masks
- Enforce social distancing during onboarding and offboarding
- Deep clean the aircraft each night
In addition to these factors, AirlineRatings also provide an expert analysis of the pilot training in place.
The airlines that make it into the top 20 safest airlines, some of which are detailed below, are ‘standouts in the industry’, according to Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.