Aviation's deadly week started with MH17

02:35, Jul 25 2014
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
The aftermath of the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
Family of those on board during the spirits calling ceremony at the crash site.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
Criminal Investigation Bureau teams search through the wreckage near the airport at Magong on Penghu Island, Taiwan.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
Debris from the plane crashed down on to houses near the airport.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
Luckily no one on the ground was killed when the plane slammed into this neighbourhood.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
The tail of TransAsia Airways flight fell on a local house.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
Rescue personnel survey the wreckage of the turboprop plane.
Taiwan TransAsia plane crash
The plane crashed during a thunderstorm but aviation officials say the weather was deemed suitable for landing.

Nearly 300 passengers are killed when their plane is shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. Airlines suspend flights to Israel's largest airport after rocket attacks. An airliner crashes during a storm in Taiwan, and yet another disappears in West Africa. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory.

Industry analysts and safety experts say they can find no common themes. Nor do they think the events indicate that flying is suddenly becoming less safe.

Fewer than one in two million flights last year ended in an accident in which the plane was damaged beyond repair, according to the International Air Transport Association.

That includes accidents involving cargo and charter airlines as well as scheduled passenger flights.

"One of the things that makes me feel better when we look at these events is that if they all were the same type event or same root cause then you would say there's a systemic problem here, but each event is unique in its own way," said Jon Beatty, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, an airline industry-supported nonprofit in the US that promotes global aviation safety.

But Beatty said he also finds the disaster cluster "a cold reminder" that airline accidents are likely to increase because the industry is growing, especially in developing countries. The more flights there are, the more potential for accidents, he said.

The misfortunes began July 18 when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine with 298 people on board. It's still not clear who fired the missile that destroyed the plane, but Ukrainian officials have blamed pro-Russian rebels.

The mysterious disappearance in March of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on board, combined with the destruction of MH17, added up to more than twice the total global airline fatalities in all of last year, which was the industry's safest year on record.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Malaysia Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
The crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
MALAYSIA2
The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Ukraine plane crash
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Ukraine.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
MH17
A firefighter stands as flames burst amongst the wreckages of the MH17.
MH17
The wreckage smoulders at the site of the MH17 crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks through the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People light candles at the Malaysian embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People light candles at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 reacts to messages on her mobile phone as she waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board MH17.
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
AIDS Conference
Members of the public walk past signage on the Princes Bridge for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-seven Australians and more than 100 AIDS activists, researchers, health workers and delegates bound for the major conference were among those aboard MH17.
MH17
Relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
MH17 crash
A woman lights candles at a memorial for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Kuala Lumpur.
MH17 crash
Pro-Russian separatists look at passengers' belongings at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
MH17 crash
A pro-Russian separatist holds a stuffed toy found at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
MH17 crash
A flower placed on wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
MH17 crash
A man blocks access to the scene of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers.

Ascend, a global aviation industry consulting firm based in London, counted 163 fatalities in 2013 involving airliners with 14 seats or more.

On Wednesday ngiht, a TransAsia Airways plane crashed in Taiwan in stormy weather trailing a typhoon, killing 48 passengers, injuring 10 others and crew and injuring five people on the ground.

On Thursday, an Air Algerie flight with 116 passengers and crew disappeared in a rainstorm over Mali en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital. The plane was operated for the airline by Swiftair, a Spanish carrier.

Together, the disasters have the potential to push airline fatalities this year to over 700 - the most since 2010. And 2014 is still barely half over.

Aviation industry analyst Robert Mann said he didn't expect the recent events to deter travellers from flying.

"They're all tragic, but the global air travel consumer has a very short memory, and it's highly localised to their home markets where they fly," he said.

Airline passengers interviewed by The Associated Press said they weren't overly concerned about their safety.

"It could be happening every day or never again," said Bram Holshoff, a Netherlands traveler at Berlin's Tegel Airport. "It's a bit much that it happened three times this week, but for me nothing will change."

Lam Nguyen, 52, of Tahiti, who was headed to Los Angeles from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, said he considers flying "a very safe mode of transportation."

"And if it has to happen, it will happen....It doesn't prevent me from taking planes," he said.

The shootdown of MH17 has raised questions about whether airlines, and the aviation authorities in their home countries, are adjusting flight routes quickly enough when unrest in troubled parts of the world threatens the safety of planes.

But aviation safety consultant John Cox, a former airline pilot and accident investigator, said he sees no connection between that event and the other disasters.

"I don't know how you could respond to anything when there is not a commonality of events," he said. "We don't have a full understanding of the Taiwan accident, and certainly not on the" Air Algerie plane.

Cox attributed the US Federal Aviation Administration's decision on Tuesday to prohibit flights to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv to "hypersensitivity" to the possibility of another shootdown.

M17 victims
Australian siblings Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin and their grandfather Nick were killed on MH17.
M17 victims
Miguel, Mika and Shaka Panduwinata with their mother Samira Calehr. The brothers were all on the doomed flight.
M17 victims
The Maslin children were returning to Perth with Norris after a family holiday in Europe.
M17 victims
Robert Ayley with a rottweiler during his trip to Europe. Robert was one of the victims of the MH17 crash.
M17 victims
Mary Menke of Mallacoota, one of the Australian victims of the MH17 crash.
M17 victims
Liam Sweeney, 29, who was on his way to New Zealand following the West Ham football team.
M17 victims
Jack Alder, 60, who was on his way to New Zealand following the Newcastle United team.

The FAA issued the order after a Hamas rocket exploded about 1.6 kilometres from the airport. The prohibition was lifted 36 hours later.

Aviation is "fundamentally safe and getting safer, but can it can always fall prey to the mistakes or ill will of man," said former FAA chief counsel Kenneth Quinn.

"We sometimes forget the magic of flight, or the fragility of life, but this week has brought home the need to appreciate this more and protect both better."

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MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.

AP