Global Air Safety Rates Up with One Exception: Russia

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global safety rates that include statistics on plane crashes and the numbers of passenger deaths have improved overall by a striking 50 percent.

This has prompted the organization to predict that 2011 could be the safest year yet for air travelers. In fact, every region of the world saw improvement with the exception of Russia and the nations that used to be part of the old Soviet Union, now referred to as Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

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The most recent statistics from IATA cover events through Nov. 30, 2011 and includes 240 airlines in 118 countries. This accounts for nearly 85 percent of all worldwide plane traffic, but note that low-cost carriers are not included in these statistics.

  • 2011: Total worldwide fatal accidents, 22; deaths, 486
  • 2010: Total worldwide fatal accidents, 23; deaths, 786
  • 2006: Total worldwide fatal accidents, 20; deaths, 855

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Safest Air Travel Regions

Here is the region-by-region breakdown of accident rates per million take-offs, showing improvements from 2010 to 2011:

North America:

  • 2011 accident rate: 1.18
  • 2010 accident rate: 1.51

Europe:

  • 2011 accident rate: 1.39
  • 2010 accident rate: 1.59

Asia-Pacific:

  • 2011 accident rate: 1.39
  • 2010 accident rate 2.61

Latin America:

  • 2011 accident rate: 4.57
  • 2010 accident rate 6.85

Africa

  • 2011 accident rate: 6.34
  • 2010 accident rate: 17.11

Africa’s accident rates show a dramatic 73 percent improvement. The overall global accident rate so far this year is 4.57 vs. 6.85 in 2010.

Russia: Air Crashes and Deaths Rise

Russia and the CIS countries showed a reverse trend with a record that was 55 percent worse than the previous year. According to the grim statistics, the accident rate for that region so far this year is 11.07 compared to 7.15 in 2010.

One of the causes for the downward trend cited by Reuters was that in Russia “pilots and ground technicians were having to adapt to a growing number of highly sophisticated aircraft” but that they would “shortly” be implementing an IATA safety program which is credited with major improvements in African air travel.

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Published: December 9, 2011