Over the past 12 years, U.S. airlines have accomplished an astonishing feat: carrying more than eight billion passengers without a fatal crash.

Such numbers were once unimaginable, even among the most optimistic safety experts. But now, pilots for domestic carriers can expect to go through an entire career without experiencing a single engine malfunction or failure. Official statistics show that in recent years, the riskiest part of any airline trip in the U.S. is when aircraft wheels are on the ground, on runways or taxiways.

The achievements stem from a sweeping safety reassessment—a virtual revolution in thinking—sparked by a small band of senior federal regulators, top industry executives and pilots-union leaders after a series of high-profile fatal crashes in the mid-1990s. To combat common industry hazards, they teamed up to launch voluntary incident reporting programs with carriers sharing data and no punishment for airlines or aviators when mistakes were uncovered.

This is from Andy Pasztor, “The Airline Safety Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2021. (The print edition is Saturday/Sunday, April 17/18, 2021.) Unfortunately, it’s gated. It’s a tremendous article.

The bio at the end says:

Mr. Pasztor, who is writing a book about the history of air safety, recently retired from The Wall Street Journal, where he covered aviation since the mid-1990s.

I’m guessing this is an excerpt from his forthcoming book.