Airliner crashes rise, but death toll falls

Fatal airliner crashes increased for the first time in a decade last year but overall deaths declined, according to figures released today.

Accidents in Brazil, Indonesia and Africa led to a rate of 0.75 serious accidents per million flights. The previous year's figure was 0.65.

Overall deaths from flying declined to 692 last year compared with 855 a year earlier, according to the annual safety report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Passenger traffic was up 6%during the same period, the Geneva-based organisation said.

Fewer than one in a million flights involving Western-built jets ended with an accident that destroyed or severely damaged the plane. But the rise is the first increase in the serious accident rate since 1998, when it stood at 1.4 crashes per million flights.

Western-built jets, such as those made by Boeing or Airbus, are by far the most common passenger planes in the world. IATA figures suggest they account for about 85% of global traffic.

IATA counted a total of 100 accidents involving jet and turboprop planes in 2007, up from 77 accidents a year earlier.

North America, Europe, and the countries of the former Soviet Union had the lowest accident rates last year. Africa had the worst record, with a rate of 4.09 per one million flights.

"While this is an improvement over last year, it is still six times less safe to fly in Africa than the rest of the world," IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said.

A July 17 crash in which a Tam Linhas Aereas SA jet hit a building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the deadliest single accident of 2007, killing 199 people.

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