© Rex Features
A Yak-42 crashed after take-off at Yaroslavl, Russia in September, killing 43
The year 2011 saw a rise in the number of airline fatal accidents, reaching a total of 32 compared with 26 in 2010, and above the annual average for the last decade, which is 31.
However, there was a relatively low fatalities total for 2011 - at 514, the second-lowest global annual figure in the preceding decade, in which the yearly average is 751 (see graph). These figures include airline operations of all types, including scheduled and charter, pure freight and positioning flights. The fatalities numbers include crew casualties, as well as passengers. The reason for the relatively high fatal accident figure and the contrastingly low number of casualties is the number of small regional aircraft involved, mostly turboprops (see accident list). The number of casualties per fatal accident was 16.
There were nine fatal jet accidents among all the categories of operation, but two involved were freighters and two aircraft of regional-jet size, leaving only five aircraft that could reasonably be categorised as passenger big jets. All the latter were old machines: two Boeing 727s, a 737-200, a Tupolev Tu-154, and a Yakovlev Yak-42. The two worst accidents of the year involved 727s: a 36-year-old Iran Air Boeing 727-200 on a domestic flight that crashed in January near Orumiyeh, killing 77 of the 105 people on board; and there were 77 casualties when a 46-year-old Hewa Bora 727-100 crashed in bad weather at Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Flightglobal data and consultancy division Ascend describes 2011: "It was a good year from the point of view of both safety and insurance. Fatal accident and passenger fatality rates for the year were the lowest ever and, with no major catastrophe, the estimated cost of incurred hull and liability losses in 2011 is not much more than half that recorded in 2010."