Airline Fatality Rate Improves, Some Exceptions

February 8, 2011

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While the rate of airline fatalities is fewer than one per million passengers carried there are still parts of the world where flying is less safe than others, according to research published in the Financial Times newspaper.

The FT research shows that of the world's 1,000 plus commercial airlines, just 25 of those carried about half the 11.5 billion passengers flown over the last 10 years.

Of the 25, five of them had six accidents in which there were fatalities. Brazil's TAM had two, although one of those had only one fatality.

The most recent incident was an Air France crash in the south Atlantic in 2009 in which 216 people died.

The newspaper wrote that in total 873 passengers were killed in flights operated by the largest 25 airlines over that period – just 13 percent of the 6,566 passenger fatalities in the decade. In other words the 10-year fatality rate for the world’s 25 busiest airlines was 1 in 13.2 million.

However the improving safety record is not the case in every part of the world. In Africa the safety figures have even deteriorated. In the 70s Africa had 190,000 flights per fatal crash while in the 2000s it took only 160,000 for fatalities to occur.

The research was carried out for the FT by Ascend, a consultancy whose air accident database is used by the most of the world's biggest insurance companies to set airline premiums.

(Ken Symon)