The airline industry is having a vigorous debate about how this level of safety has been achieved. The Air Line Pilots Association, ALPA, cited regulations issued in 2013 that changed the number of hours of flying experience needed to qualify as an airline pilot from 250 hours to 1,500 hours.

In contrast, the president of the Aviation Safety Network that tracks all accidents credited the “persistent decline” since 1997 to “efforts by international organizations.” (Those organizations, the International Commercial Aviation Organization, and the International Air Transport Organizations, actually have an abysmal record of responding to safety issues.)

It is surely true that, whatever the bureaucratic hurdles, there has been a continuous and successful drive by industry innovators to eliminate the most frequent causes of crashes, largely by introducing more advanced technologies to both the airplanes and the ground systems like air-traffic control and weather forecasting.