IATA reports rise in aircraft accident-related fatalities

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Fewer fatal aircraft accidents occurred in 2009 than in 2008, but they caused a higher number of deaths, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In total, there were 18 fatal aircraft accidents last year, down from 23 in 2008. However, the number of aircraft accident-related fatalities rose by 183 to 685.

"Every fatality is a human tragedy that reminds us of the ultimate goal of zero accidents and zero fatalities," says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general.

Runway excursions were deemed the main cause of all aircraft accidents, occurring in 25% of them, while pilot error was considered a contributory factor in 30% of accidents.

Last year's accident rate for Western-built aircraft was the second-lowest on record, at 0.71 hull losses per million flights.

By region, Africa again posted the poorest safety record, with an accident rate of 9.94 hull losses per million flights of western-built aircraft.

North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, the CIS states and Europe all posted accident rates below the global average.