Asiana Flight 214

The crash site of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press / July 6, 2013)

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Grouse all you want about shrinking airline seats and annoying fees for onboard food, drinks and entertainment, but the industry’s safety record is looking up.

The world’s airlines had one of their safest years on record in 2013. There were 29 airline accidents last year, which, combined, resulted in a record-low 265 fatalities, according to the Aviation Safety Network, a private research group in the Netherlands. That's out of about 31 million commercial flights worldwide.

The world's airlines had a pretty safe year in 2012 as well, with 475 fatalities from 23 airline accidents, including passenger and cargo flights, the research group said.

The last two years represented a dramatic drop from the 10-year average of 720 fatalities per year.

The deadliest accident in 2013 took place in Kazan, Russia, on Nov. 17 when a Tatarstan Airlines plane crashed on approach, killing 50 people.

Closer to home, an Asiana Airlines plane crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three people. It was carrying more than 300 passengers and crew members.

Harro Ranter, president of the research group, attributes the improved safety record to the efforts of international aviation groups to impose safety guidelines on airlines around the world.

If you still harbor a fear of flying, you might be comforted to hear about Qantas, the Australian airline that recently was rated as the world’s safest by AirlineRatings.com. The airline hasn’t had a fatal accident since 1951.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority, and our teams work around the clock to ensure the safety of our passengers and our crew," a Qantas spokesperson said.

AirlineRatings.com gave its lowest safety ratings to Kam Air, based in Afghanistan; SCAT Airlines, based in Kazakhstan; and Blue Wing Airlines, based in Suriname, a tiny country in South America.

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