Airline fatalities drop 25 percent in 2008

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Thu January 08 2009, 04:23 AM
Airline fatalities drop 25 percent in 2008
Airline fatalities drop 25 percent in 2008

2008 was one of the best years on record for air safety, according to the latest data from Ascend (, the world's leading provider of information and consultancy to the global aerospace industry. Ascend's annual safety bulletin, published today, shows a 25 per cent decline between 2007 and 2008 in the number of fatalities resulting from aircraft accidents.

With 539 reported passenger and crew fatalities, 2008 represents a notable improvement on the 730 fatalities recorded in 2007 and makes last year the safest on record, bar one. Only 2004 recorded fewer fatalities at 434. However, 2008 also saw 28 fatal air accidents in total, an increase of 17 per cent on 2007's 24.

The fatal accident rate for 2008 of 1 per 1.3 million flights is better than the overall rate for the nine years since 2000 of 1 per 1.2 million flights. The year also compares very favourably with those of the 1990s, which recorded an average of 37.4 fatal accidents per year. Furthermore, in the 1990s, an average of 1,128 people died each year - more than twice the number in 2008.

"These are very reassuring statistics," says Paul Hayes, Director, Ascend. "Although there were more fatal accidents this year than last, far fewer people died. The chances of dying in a serious air accident have reduced significantly and overall, passenger safety has improved. Despite my earlier misgivings, I am pleased to report that some industry actions, such as the EU's controversial blacklisting, have proved effective."

Striving for safety improvements

The worst accident of 2008 was the Spanair MD-80 crash in August, which killed 149 of the 166 passengers on board and five of six crew when it crashed beside the runway at Madrid Barajas Airport. Only two other accidents killed more than 50 people; the Aeroflot Nord (Boeing 737) and Itek Air (Boeing 737) crashes resulted in 82 and 65 deaths respectively.

Several recent industry developments have contributed to the overall improvement in air safety over time, says Hayes. "While there has been a tragic loss of life this year, the safety record for 2008 is good news for the industry. Developments such as the European Union's blacklisting of unsafe airlines, IATA's Operational Safety Audit for member airlines and improved adherence to international safety regulations are all working to make the skies safer for passengers."