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Report: Air Accidents Worldwide Up in 2007, But 19 Percent Fewer Fatalities


The International Air Transport Association says the number of airline accidents worldwide rose last year, largely due to crashes in Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, but the death toll from air crashes dropped sharply.

IATA's annual safety report says the increase was small, but it reversed a 10-year trend in the aviation industry.

The report, released Thursday, counted 100 accidents in 2007, compared to 77 a year earlier. But it adds that the number of people killed in air accidents declined significantly - by 19 percent, to 692 from 855 in 2006 - even as more people than ever before traveled by plane.

The air-industry association said air accidents occur six times more frequently in Africa than in other parts of the world - at a rate of just over four accidents per one million flights - but that air safety across the continent improved last year.

The IATA says nearly half of all aviation accidents take place during landing.

The safety report says Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States recorded no fatal accidents according to IATA criteria during 2007, following a disastrous year in 2006.

IATA counts accidents by the number of "hull losses for every million flights by Western-built jet aircraft" - incidents in which a plane is destroyed or cannot be repaired, involving a large commercial plane "designed and manufactured in the Western world."

The group's report said crashes in Indonesia pushed the accident rate in the Asia-Pacific region to 2.76 hull losses per million flights.

The most serious air crash in the world last year involved an Airbus jet that overshot a wet runway in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last July, killing 199 people. IATA says it is working with the Brazilian government on a comprehensive program to improve safety.

The industry group says air travel remains "the safest mode of transportation." IATA's director general, Giovanni Bisignani, says accident rates have declined nearly by half since 1998 - from 1.34 to 0.75 accidents per million flights.

North America (0.09) and Europe (0.29) had accident rates significantly below the world average.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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