Equipment Failure Shows Rise in Airline Crashes

From Reuters

Air accident figures for the first six months of 1989 show a rising incidence of mechanical failure that caused nine of the 26 accidents this year in which 606 people died, Flight International magazine reported Thursday.

Reviewing half-year figures relative to the decade as a whole, the magazine said that 1989 has been a poor year for airline safety. The figures appearing in the magazine's latest issue do not take into account the United Airlines DC-10 crash Wednesday in Sioux City, Iowa.

Flight International said 1985 held the decade's worst half-year with 913 deaths and 21 accidents.

The number of deaths in 1989 compare with a decade half-year average of 439 and the accident count of 26 against a decade half-year figure of 17. This takes into account a 40% rise in the number of passenger journeys since the early 1980s.

"If the 1989 first half-year figures are factored to accord with 1980 flying rates, the fatalities would have totalled 433 and the number of accidents would have been 19," the magazine said.

Of the fatal accidents in 1989, 9 involved mechanical failure, 6 involved bad weather and pilot error was a factor in the remaining 14.

"The mechanical failure figure is higher than usual," the magazine said. The threat of terrorism to airlines subsided in 1989, but whether this was a result of better security at airports or because terrorists had left aviation alone was unclear, it added.

Britain tightened security at all major airports after the December bombing of a Pan Am Boeing 747 in Scotland, in which 270 people died.

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