What makes one airplane safer than another? Are certain airplanes better than others? For those who travel, knowing what types of aircraft are the safest to fly on may be a factor in choosing your flights.
Beyond the structure of an airplane, certainly maintenance of a plane is a huge factor regarding safety. An airline's safety record also comes into play, as an airline may have a similar fleet with other airlines, but a very different safety record from each other. And there are the uncontrollable factors - weather, bird strikes, or ground debris to name a few.
Declaring one type of aircraft the safest in the world is not a simple task. If all airlines had exactly the same maintenance standards, and flew in the same conditions, it would perhaps be easier to pinpoint. Looking at statistics of how many incidents and crashes a type of airplane has incurred is one way to assess safety.
Airsafe maintains a list of Fatal Event Rates for Selected Airliner Models. According to their statistics the 5 safest types of airplanes are: Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 777, Boeing 717, and Boeing 737 (600-900 series). No turboprops are included in the list.
The Aviation Safety Network has one of the most comprehensive databases of aircraft safety statistics available on the web. In terms of turboprops, and according to their statistics (I'm using aircraft that first came into service after 1980), the safest turboprop aircraft, with the lowest number of fatalities are: Antonov 38 (first flight 1994 - O fatalities), SAAB 2000 (first flight 1992 - O fatalities), Sukhoi Su-80 (first flight 2001 - O fatalities), Let 610 (first flight 1988 - O fatalities). This list does not take into consideration the numbers of miles flown, simply fatalities.
An aircraft is often only as good as the airline that operates them, and barring nature's own challenges. There are planes that have been in service for over 25 years without incident, and newer ones that have crashed. In some situations, such as ice build-up, a jet may be safer, whereas in others, such as needing a short landing on a runway, a turboprop may have an advantage.