Apparently unable to let a piece of good news go unclaimed as a direct result of his leadership, President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning took credit for the news that 2017 was reported as the safest year in the history of commercial air travel.
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
On Monday, both the Dutch aviation consulting firm To7 and the independent Aviation Safety Network noted there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017, though deaths caused by accidents and various small aircraft crashes were reported.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2017 was “the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities.”
But while Trump took personal credit for the historically low statistics, Adrian Young, senior aviation consultant for To70, told The Independent the figures are an anomaly not likely to sustain themselves and attributed the absence of deaths last year to luck more than policy, let alone the actions of one man. “It is unlikely that this historic low will be maintained,” Young said. “In part, these very positive figures rest on good fortune. Nevertheless, the safety level that civil aviation has achieved is remarkable.”
Reaction to Trump taking credit for more planes in 2017 not falling out of the sky and more people not dying as a result was met with incredulity online.
“OMG Give me a break. Are you seriously trying to take credit for that?” asked Twitter user Greg Shugar.
“He really is,” another user responded. “Literally insane.”
Pastor and activist Bishop Talbert Swan also expressed outrage, writing, “You know Trump is a sicko when he takes credit for no aviation deaths instead of crediting pilots, airlines, transportation safety & air traffic control! What an arrogant, self absorbed egomaniacal little twit!”
As many pointed out, the current administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta, is one of the few remaining leftovers from the Obama presidency.
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) January 2, 2018
At the Washington Post, Philip Bump points out a couple other serious problems with Trump’s taking of credit in this case:
The first is that this was a global statistic. One reason 2017 saw fewer fatalities among commercial flights is that 2016 saw a fatal accident in Colombia in November — the last time there had been a fatal passenger jet airliner accident. Did Trump spend his first year quietly bolstering the safety of airlines in Colombia, Lithuania, Tanzania and Indonesia?
The other complication is that the number of deaths on American commercial airlines didn’t change in 2017 relative to 2016 — because it’s hard to go lower than “zero.” The last time someone died in the crash of an American commercial flight was in February 2009 — less than a month after Barack Obama first took office. Yet apparently we are supposed to believe that Trump’s eventual election reached its grip back eight years in time to ensure that flights would be safer moving forward.