IATA is citing accident rates for Western-built jets as evidence that its operational audit programme is a valid safety indicator.

While the accident rate for Africa more than halved to 3.27 hull losses per million flights in 2011 - down by two-thirds from 2009 - the figure was still nearly 10 times the global average of 0.37 and failed to improve the region's unenviable position as the worst-performing.

But IATA points out that the accident rate for African carriers on its operational safety audit (IOSA) registry was "almost equivalent" to the world average, and there were no hull losses in Africa among IOSA airlines. In contrast, the association says, the accident rate for non-IOSA operators was more than five times as high.

Although he acknowledges that Africa has "complex" problems such as poor oversight, IATA director general Tony Tyler says: "It is quite clear from the industry's performance that global standards like IOSA are an effective means to improve safety."

IATA data show that while the situation with CIS airlines had deteriorated, those on the audit registry also had an accident rate five times better than non-registered carriers. There are 369 carriers on the IOSA registry. Overall the worldwide accident rate for audited operators was 52% better.

There were around the same number of accidents (92) and fatal accidents (22) across all aircraft types as in 2010. But the hull-loss figure for Western-built jets fell from 17 to 11 - five of which were fatal, down from eight.

In total there were 486 fatalities, 300 fewer than in 2010.

IATA says the accident rate for Western-built jets was the lowest in aviation history last year, substantially below the figure of 0.61 hull losses per million flights achieved in 2010 - but it admits that the level among its members, 0.41, was above the industry average.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news