Global figures for commercial aviation crashes in 2007 show an all-time low of 24 fatal accidents, and even the number of fatal casualties, at 687, was well below the annual average for the last 10 years.
The comparable figures for accidents in 2006 were 27 fatal accidents resulting in 863 fatalities, which can be measured against an annual average for the decade 1998-2007 showing an average of 34.6 fatal accidents a year and 864 fatalities.
The worst accident of the year was the TAM Linhas Aereas Airbus A320 landing disaster at Sao Paulo Congonhas airport which killed 187 on board and 12 on the ground.
Apart from that crash and a Tu-134 landing accident at Samara airport, Russia that killed six of its 57 passengers, all the accidents involving passenger aircraft took place in third-world economies or aircraft registered in them.
The largest number of fatal accidents for a single country occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with six fatal crashes of which four were cargo flights and two were commuter operations flown using Let 410 twin-turboprop aircraft.
The DR Congo accident picture is worsened by the fact that most cargo flights there carry unathorised passengers anyway, and one of the accidents involved a crash into a Kinshasa residential area killing an unknown number of people on the ground.
Meanwhile, Indonesia saw two of the year's worst fatal accidents involving passenger jets - an Adam Air Boeing 737-400 and a Garuda 737-400, and in addition Adam Air suffered serious damage to one of its fleet following a very heavy landing.
A full analysis of world airline safety in 2007, including a listing of the accidents and incidents, a breakdown of events by cause and aircraft category, and a review of the final accident reports published during the year will be presented in the 8-14 January issue of Flight International.