Airline fatalities dropped in 2013, study says

While crews continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, a global airline trade group reported a steep drop in the number of airline fatalities in 2013, compared to the previous year.

The International Air Transport Assn. reported 210 fatalities from commercial airline accidents in 2013, down from 414 fatalities in the previous year. Those 210 fatalities exceed the 239 people believed to have perished aboard Flight 370 last month. The fatality total was also below the five-year average of 517 deaths per year.

Meanwhile, the director general and chief executive of the group, Tony Tyler, said he will call for the formation of a task force to offer ideas to improve the tracking of commercial flights, such as Malaysia Flight 370.

The plane was carrying 239 people when it disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The task force will be assigned to return with recommendations by December.

"In a world where our every move seems to be tracked, there is disbelief both that an aircraft could simply disappear and that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders are so difficult to recover," he said in a speech in Kuala Lumpur.

Although fatalities dropped in 2013, the rate of accidents by Western-built jets nearly doubled from 0.21% to 0.41%, measured by the number of aircraft destroyed beyond repair per million flights, IATA reported.

Still, more than 3 billion people flew safely on 36.4 million flights, with only 16 fatal accidents in 2013, the group said.

The most common accidents, 23%, involved planes that overran a runway, the group found. But such an accident is survivable and accounts for less than 8% of airline fatalities.


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