March 18, 2006
Accidents in the United States involving commercial airlines and private aircraft rose last year, but fatalities declined, according to safety figures released on Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating transportation accidents, said in its annual review that civil aviation accidents rose to 1,779 last year from 1,717 in 2004.
"The increase in accidents is disappointing," said the safety board's acting chairman, Mark Rosenker. "But the decrease in total fatalities is a hopeful sign."
Fatalities fell to 600 last year from 636 in 2004.
Virtually all of the accidents and deaths occurred in general aviation crashes, those involving small planes. The fatal accident rate and the fatality rate both increased for that group of aircraft.
There were 32 accidents involving scheduled airline operations.
Twenty-two deaths occurred in three incidents, including the first fatality involving a Southwest Airlines flight. In that accident last December, a Southwest jet skidded off a snowy runway at Chicago's Midway Airport and struck a car, killing a boy in the vehicle.
Also in December, a Chalk Ocean Airways plane broke up in flight shortly after takeoff from Miami, killing 20 people. Last June at Washington's Reagan National Airport, a ground worker operating a mobile baggage loader was killed after striking an aircraft being prepared for flight.
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