First 11 months of 2011 were safest for air travel since 1945

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If you suffer from a fear of flying, here’s something that might calm your nerves: The first 11 months of 2011 have been the safest period for commercial air travel since 1945.

The global accident rate for January through November was 22% better than the same time last year and marked the safest period since a United Nations aviation agency began collecting data in 1945, according to the International Air Transport Assn., an airline trade group that issued a recent safety report based on the UN data.

Globally, there have been 486 passenger and crew fatalities in the first 11 months of the year, down from 784 fatalities in the same period last year, according to the trade group. In the first 11 months of 2011, the accident rate was 2.16 per million passenger takeoffs, down from 2.78 per million in the same period last year.

The most common accidents this year have been “runway excursions,” which occur when airplanes veer off or overrun the runway. Such incidents represented 23% of all accidents in that period, according to the report.


A spokesman for the trade group said he didn’t know why the first 11 months have been so safe but added that several changes over the years have improved overall aviation safety.

For example, IATA spokesman Perry Flint said manufacturers now build more reliable airplanes that include backup safety systems. He added that more countries are adopting international safety standards and annual safety audits.

“In general,” Flint said, “the safety trend line is moving in the right direction.”


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-- Hugo Martin