Dutch aviation safety consultancy firm To70 has released its 2021 figures for commercial airline accident fatalities, showing a drop on the previous year.

The figures show there were a total of 38 accidents last year, four of which were fatal, resulting in 81 fatalities.

This is less than a third of the fatalities recorded in 2020, when there were 40 accidents, five of which were fatal, resulting in 299 deaths.

Last year’s fatality rate is the lowest since 2017, and equates to one fatal accident for every 5.3 million flights.

The data includes all accidents involving “larger passenger aircraft used by most travellers”, which To70 says covers “the vast majority of commercial air transport operations” – but does not include accidents to military, training, private, cargo or helicopter flights.

The four fatal accidents in 2021 were operated by Indonesia’s Sriwijaya Air, South Sudan Supreme Airlines, Russia’s Aeroservice, and Malu Aviation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The report said that while “issues related to Covid have not led to accidents”… “there is evidence in the aviation incident data to suggest that that unpreparedness / unfamiliarity following periods of inactivity is affecting flight safety”.

“Issues relating to refresher training following long periods of absence, working in a period of underload – ie: not enough stimuli or motivation to perform optimally – and mental health issues are all factors that the industry is striving to tackle,” the report said.

Air travel remains a very safe mode of travel – The Independent reports that the figure of 81 fatalities compares with 1.3 million people who died on roads last year.