Air crash deaths reduced

The number of people who died in passenger airline crashes in 2007 fell 20 per cent compared with 2006, according to figures from aerospace industry information company Ascend

There were 631 passenger fatalities worldwide last year - 159 fewer than in 2006. The 2007 total is below the average for the decade of 718.9 deaths and is a significant improvement on the 1990s average of 954.4 passenger fatalities a year.

Although the total of 15 accidents last year involving deaths of passengers was two more than in 2006, the 2007 figure compared favourably with the average number of fatal accidents since 2000 which stands at 16.0. The annual figure in the 1990s averaged 24.2 fatal accidents a year.

The worst accident in 2007 was in Sao Paulo, Brazil in July when a TAM Airbus A320 overran the runway on landing and struck an office building. All 181 passengers and six crew on board plus a further 12 people on the ground were killed.

There were four further accidents in 2007 that resulted in a high loss of life. Combined, these five accidents accounted for 517 passenger deaths - about 80 per cent of the total passenger fatalities for 2007.

When judging the figures, the steady annual increase in the number of flights worldwide has to be taken into account.

The number of deaths could actually go up in any one year and the fatality-per-flight rate would actually fall through the fact that more planes had taken to the skies.

Ascend director Paul Hayes said: "Aviation's improving safety record over recent years is a real success story for the industry. In the face of rapid growth, new aircraft, new operators and emerging markets, standards have not been allowed to slip.

"This underlines just how seriously the entire industry takes its responsibilities. However, work is far from complete and the challenge for aviation is to keep setting itself even higher standards for safety and to keep improving."

Image: The aviation industry's safety record continues to improve

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