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Sun 22 Feb 2009 11:14 AM

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Mideast airline accidents rise in 2008

Two accidents involving carriers from the Middle East and North Africa occurred last year.

The Middle East aviation industry’s safety performance dropped last year following a slight increase in accidents, an airline body has claimed.

According to statistics issued by the International Air Transport Association, the Middle East and North Africa registered a 1.89 accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jet aircraft).  

Two accidents involving carriers from the Middle East and North Africa occurred last year, although no details were given.

The global accident rate for 2008 increased to 0.81, representing one incident for every 1.2m flights, from 0.75 (one accident in every 1.3m flights).

In 2008, there were 109 accidents compared to 100 in 2007. Meanwhile, the number of fatal accidents increased to 23 from the previous year’s total of 20.

However, while the number of accidents increased last year, aviation-related fatalities dropped from 692 in 2007 to 502 in 2008. 

“Safety is the industry’s number one priority,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA. “Today’s statistics confirm that travelling by air is one the safest things that a person can do.”

Runway excursions accounted for 25 percent of all accidents in 2008, while ground damage was the cause for 17 percent. Elsewhere, investigations found that deficient safety management contributed to 30 percent of last year’s incidents.

The report comes one week after a Continental Airlines passenger plane crashed onto a house in North America, killing 50 people.

An ice build-up on the aircraft’s wings is believed to have caused the accident during its approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. 

“Our record on safety is impressive,” Bisignani said. “But the accident in Buffalo last week and all the 502 fatalities in air accidents in 2008 are human tragedies reminding airlines, regulators and industry partners everywhere that safety is a constant challenge and we must always strive to do better.

Our target is zero accidents, and zero fatalities. Nothing less is an acceptable result.

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