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More than twice as many people have died on Malaysia Airlines planes in 2014 than on any commercial aircraft in 2013

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Malaysia Airlines has had a very rough year: 537 people have died on the company's flights this year, which is more than double the total number of fatalities from all commercial airline crashes in 2013.

The last carrier to experience more than one fatal crash in a year was American Airlines, which lost three flights in 2001 — two on September 11 and another flight that crashed after takeoff from New York's JFK Airport on November 12.

There have been 16 commercial airline crashes with at least 50 casualties since 2009, according to the Aviation Safety Network. Malaysia Airlines was the only carrier to have two crashes within that timeframe, both this year; the carrier has only had two other fatal crashes in its 41-year history.

Both planes went down under highly unusual, somewhat mysterious circumstances — MH370 lost somewhere over the south Indian Ocean; MH17 shot down over Ukraine.

Until the full story of both Malaysia Airlines flights are known, it's impossible to say how much responsibility, if any, the airline bears for the deaths. The company said in a press release today that the flight path of MH17 was determined by European air traffic controllers and navigation services, and that other carriers have flown similar routes over Ukraine.