Air travel "safer" in 2014 despite Malaysian disasters-IATA

Mon Mar 9, 2015 12:07am EDT
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By Siva Govindasamy

SINGAPORE, March 9 (Reuters) - Last year was by some measures the safest in the history of commercial aviation, despite two high-profile crashes involving Malaysia Airlines aircraft in which hundreds of people were killed, a leading industry body said on Monday.

While more people died in air accidents in 2014 than the average in recent years, the number of fatal accidents compared with the total number of flights was a record low, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"While aviation safety was in the headlines in 2014, the data show that flying continues to improve its safety performance," said Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and chief executive officer, in a statement.

IATA, which represents about 250 airlines, said in an annual safety report that there were 12 fatal accidents in 2014 with 641 fatalities, versus 19 fatal accidents and 517 fatalities per year in the five-year period between 2009 and 2013.

That translated into an accident rate, measured in "hull losses" per 1 million flights, of 0.23, or the equivalent of one for every 4.4 million flights. The 2013 rate was 0.41 and the five-year average rate 0.58 per million flights.

IATA's 2014 statistics did not include the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was shot down by a surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile in Ukraine last June and so not classified as an accident.

"To the flying public an air tragedy is an air tragedy, regardless of how it is classified," said Tyler. "In 2014 we saw a reduction in the number of fatal accidents - and that would be true even if we were to include MH17 in the total."   Continued...