NEW YORK Deadly crashes in Brazil, Africa and Southeast Asia last year led to the first global uptick in serious jetliner accidents in a decade, an international aviation trade group said.
However, the overall number of deaths from flying declined, to 692 last year from 855 a year earlier, according to the annual safety report released last week by the International Air Transport Association. Passenger traffic was up 6 percent during the same period, the Geneva-based organization said.
Fewer than one in a million flights involving Western-built jets ended with an accident that destroyed or severely damaged the plane. Still, the rise in this so-called hull-loss rate to 0.75 accidents out of a million flights in 2007, from 0.65 in 2006 is the first increase in the serious accident rate since 1998, when it stood at 1.4 crashes per million flights.
IATA counted a total of 100 serious airline accidents in 2007, up from 77 a year earlier. Of those, 57 involved jets, and 43 involved smaller and much less common turboprops.
Western-built jets, such as those made by Boeing Co. or Airbus, are by far the most frequently used passenger planes in the world, accounting for about 85 percent of global traffic.
Africa remained the most dangerous region in which to fly, with 4.09 accidents per million flights down modestly from the previous year. North America, Europe, and the countries of the former Soviet Union had the lowest accident rates last year.
"The problem is still Africa, and ... it's a problem of resources and a lack of political will," IATA Director General and Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said. "You have many airlines that do not meet (certain safety) standards, and you have governments who are not taking safety seriously."
Nearly half of all jet accidents occurred on landing, such as the One-Two-Go Airlines MD-82 that skidded off the runway in September in Thailand, killing 88 people.
"The most risky part of the flight is always the landing," Bisignani said. "It's the most difficult part of the trip."
IATA said it is developing a program aimed at improving runway safety, and is working with African carriers to raise the region's safety standards. It has also begun training and auditing airport support crews to reduce risks on the ground.
A July 17 crash in which a Tam Linhas Aereas SA jetliner slammed into a building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the deadliest single accident of 2007, according to a report released earlier this year by the independent Aircraft Crashes Record Office, also based in Geneva. That accident killed 199 people.
Other major accidents included the crash of a Kenya Airways plane in May, with 114 fatalities, and the January crash of an Adamair flight in Indonesia with 102 deaths.