-- Quantas ranks first among the world's top 10 safest airlines, according to a leading airline safety rating service. Malaysia Airlines was not among the top 10, but the rating service gave it a respectable safety rating.
The top-ten list, prepared annually by AirlineRatings.com, is an unscientific ranking -- only taking into account audits performed by commercial aviation's governing bodies and associations, government audits and each carrier's record on fatalities.
Quantas has had no fatalities since 1951, the start of the jet era. Its safety rating of 7 is the very highest given by AirlineRatings. Of the 448 airlines graded by the service, 137 earned a 7-star rating (the highest possible). Close to 50 earned 3 stars or fewer. Malaysia Airlines had a rating of 6.
According to the private, independent Aviation Safety Network, 2013 was the safest year for flying since 1945 -- with 29 accidents and 269 deaths. That compares to a 10-year average of 32 accidents and 719 deaths. The website only ranks commercial airlines.
As determined by AirlineRatings, the ten safest airlines in the world for 2013 were:
Qantas Air New Zealand Emirates Etihad Cathay Pacific Singapore Airlines Virgin Atlantic EVA Air All Nippon Airways Royal Jordanian
As previously reported by ABC News, the leading U.S. airlines rank among the safest in the world -- so safe, in fact, that distinctions between the top ten U.S.=based airlines for safety are statistically insignificant.
Bill Voss, former head of the Flight Safety Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, told ABC News: "The safety record in the U.S. is so good that it's very difficult to find enough accidents or incidents to draw much of a conclusion about who's safest. There aren't enough data points to draw distinctions between the very safe and the extremely safe."
As regards what may have happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Geoffrey Thomas, editor of AirlineRatings, said in an interview earlier this week with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that in his opinion the disappearance was the result of a structural failure or a bomb.
Thomas said that in August 2012 this particular plane suffered a structural accident while taxiing at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. "It's wing tip struck the tail of a China Eastern A340 with such force," said Thomas, "that it ripped the wing tip off." The wing tip was repaired; "but there are suggestions that possibly the structural damage may have been more severe."
Malaysian Airlines did not immediately return a call for comment.