Boeing 737 MAX: One of the most vilified passenger jetliners in aviation history

It's become a question of not how safe it is to fly but how much safer it can realistically become. Safer skies across the globe have led to sky-high expectations of airline safety from passengers and authorities alike, and rightly so.

Yet, in what is admittedly a grim comparison, in 1998, 1,215 passengers and crew lost their lives in airline disasters compared to 500 two decades later.

Interestingly, 2018 was considered a relatively, and disappointingly, unsafe one when compared to 2017 when, remarkably, not a single passenger of a commercial jetliner died in a single accident. That year will remain the apogee of the pursuit of airline safety.

One of those fatal disasters last year, of course, included an Indonesian Lion Air crash in which 189 passengers and crew were killed with the aircraft involved being the now controversial Boeing 737 MAX.

After another disaster this year involving a Boeing 737 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines, the aircraft type is rapidly becoming one of the most vilified passenger jetliners in aviation history, just weeks after the fatality-free A380 "Superjumbo" was declared a commercial dud.

However, most of us remain blissfully unaware of the type of plane we're actually flying aboard unless, that is, we bother to check the passenger seat safety card on board or search for it on our reservation online.

Yet the sheer number of people flying around the world has generally made for a far more air travel-literate and hyper-sensitive travelling public. We've become accustomed to airline disasters being so relatively rare that when they do occur they can become big news, even in heretofore obscure, once scarcely-visited nations such as Ethiopia.

No wonder, with such a massive flying public travelling to a greater number of destinations, including more regularly to ones considered exotic 20 years ago, that the matter of airline safety has emerged from being a subject of hope to a near devout expectation.

Although the unrelenting pursuit of impeccable airline safety is one of man's most noble undertakings, do consider the statistics when next you fly: the number passengers carried by airlines, after all, totalled 4.3 billion in 2018 compared to 2.2 billion in 2008 and today there is just one fatal accident per three million flights.

See also: The airlines that have never had a single plane crash

See also: World's safest, and least safe, airlines named in new rankings