Jets Have Lowest Crash Rate in History

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Airlines flying Western-built jets globally had the best safety performance in 2010 in the history of aviation, with only one crash per every 1.6 million flights, according to the International Air Transport Association.

That's a significant improvement over the 0.71 accident rate in 2009, and over the previous record of 0.65 in 2006.

The association of some 230 international airlines measures the accident rate in hull losses per million. A hull loss is a crash in which the airplane is destroyed or so badly damaged it is not repaired.

IATA says compared to 10 years ago, the Western-built jet accident rate was cut 42%.

But the number of fatalities on all aircraft globally went up last year from 786 in 2010, compared to 685 in 2009.

"Safety is the number one priority. Achieving the lowest accident rate in the history of aviation shows that this commitment is bearing results. Flying is safe," says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. "But every fatality is a human tragedy that reminds us of the ultimate goal of zero accidents and zero fatalities. We must remain focused and determined to move closer to this goal year by year."

IATA says 2.4 billion people flew safely in 2010 on 36.8 million flights, 28.4 million on jets and 8.4 million on turboprops.

There were 17 major crashes – or hull losses -- involving Western-built aircraft last year, compared to 19 in 2009.

However, there were actually more accidents last year when Eastern-built aircraft are added to the equation – 94 accidents compared to 90 in 2009.

There was also a higher number of fatal crashes when you consider all aircraft – 23 fatal crashes last year compared to 18 in 2009.

Regional differences show up in the numbers – North America has the lowest crash rates while Africa has the highest.

"Flying must be equally safe in all parts of the world. An accident rate in Africa that is over 12 times the global average is not acceptable. Improvements can happen," Bisignani says. He calls for African governments to take steps to improve the region's safety performance.

As in the past, runway excursions, when an aircraft departs the runway during takeoff or landing, were the most common cause of accidents, according for 21% of the crashes in 2010, but the number went down from 26% in 2009. IATA takes credit for the reduction, saying it is working with the industry and regulators "to address this safety challenge" which includes wet runways.
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