Public must have answers after Germanwings tragedy

The tragic loss of a Germanwings 180-seat A320 over France yesterday adds to a horrific year of high-profile plane crashes.

Germanwings had a perfect record and is owned by one of the world's most respected airlines, Lufthansa.

Flying across Europe on Germanwings should have been one of the safest thing you could do, and the Airbus A320 is one of the world's safest planes.

Germanwings tragedy - full coverage

Germanwaings on Airline Ratings

What's more, the airline has passed all the key safety audits with flying colours.

The Germanwings crash adds to a shocking list of high-profile crashes over the past year - MH370, MH17, QZ8501 and now 4U9525.

Debris is scattered over a wide area at the crash scene.

While public confidence in the safety of air travel is shaken, it is important to keep perspective on the incredible record of aviation.

Last year was the lowest ever for fatal crashes, with one fatal accident every 4.4 million flights.

This result was an improvement over 2013 when the global loss rate was one every 2.4 million flights.

Relatives of some of those aboard the plane, at Barcelona airport.

Just last week, Tony Tyler, the director-general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, said that "while aviation safety was in the headlines in 2014, the data show that flying continues to improve its safety performance". However, 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities is sickening.

The world's airlines carried a record 3.3 billion passengers on 27 million flights last year.

Go back 50 years and there were a staggering 87 crashes, killing 1597 people globally when airlines carried only 141 million passengers - 5 per cent of today's number.

Though the statistics paint a reassuring picture, the public is nonetheless nervous, with almost 60 per cent of travellers having some fear of flying.

It is essential that French authorities establish the cause of the crash quickly because this is the second fatal accident involving an A320 in just three months.

At the same time, it is now imperative that Indonesian investigators release the cause of the crash of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which was lost on December 28, so that the travelling public can be assured of the safety of A320s.

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