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IATA: accident rate up but fatalities lower in 2007

The International Air Transport Association's bid to slash the commercial air transport accident rate for Western-built aircraft has suffered a setback after losses in Indonesia and Africa drove the figure up by 15% last year.

The organisation set a target to reduce the 2006 figure of 0.65 hull losses per million flights to just 0.49 in 2008. But accidents in Indonesia quadrupled the Asia-Pacific region's rate to 2.76, while Africa and Latin America showed only marginal improvements, to 4.09 and 1.61 respectively.

Brazil was the scene of the year's worst accident, the TAM Airbus A320 overrun at São Paulo Congonhas in July, which resulted in nearly 200 fatalities.

IATA points out that the overall number of fatalities fell by nearly a fifth, to 692, despite the number of accidents rising to 100 from 77 in 2006. Jets were involved in 57 accidents, turboprops in 43.

Russia and the former Soviet states turned in improved figures, although neither the fatal loss of a Tupolev Tu-134 at Samara nor that of an Antonov An-12 at Moscow last year are counted.

North America's accident rate was just 0.09 and Europe's was 0.29, both figures better than those posted for 2006.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani says that, while the accident rate rose last year, it has halved over the previous decade. "That's good news," he says. "But our goal is always to do better: zero fatalities and zero accidents."

Bisignani highlights continuing concern over Africa's air safety record. IATA has recently initiated a programme to give African operators access to the organisation's flight-data analysis tools.

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