Commercial Aircraft Deaths Worldwide Up 15 Percent

ABC News, February 23, 2011

Deaths on commercial aircraft worldwide rose 15 percent last year while the overall accident rate involving Western-built jets fell to an all-time low.

Those figures were released Wednesday by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group for the world’s airlines.

The group said 786 people died in 23 separate accidents last year, up from 685 deaths in 18 fatal crashes in 2009. The figures include all kinds of jets and turboprops operated on commercial flights but don’t include private or military aircraft.

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The most common cause of accidents remained planes leaving the runway during takeoff or landing. Many incidents involved wet runways, or too much speed.

IATA said there was one serious accident last year for every 1.6 million flights operated with Western-built jets compared with one for every 1.4 million flights in 2009. It said 2.4 billion people flew safely on 36.8 million jet and turboprop flights last year.

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Accident rates were lowest in the former Soviet republics and North America, followed by North Asia and Europe. Rates were higher than the world average in the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East-North Africa and Latin America-Caribbean.

The highest rate was in Africa. IATA said African airlines accounted for 2 percent of worldwide passenger traffic but 23 percent of serious accidents.

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