Half airline accidents occur upon landing


GENEVA (Reuters) – About half of the 100 airline accidents worldwide last year took place during landing, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday.

Many of those accidents could have been avoided if pilots made a second attempt at the runway, or if obstacles on the ground were properly cleared, according to a safety report by the Geneva-based industry group.

There were 692 fatalities in 2007, down from 855 the previous year despite many more people traveling by air. The global passenger count rose by 6 percent over the year to 2.2 billion.

One-fifth of the accidents in 2007 caused deaths. The most serious crashes were in Brazil, Indonesia, and Africa, deemed by IATA the most dangerous region in which to travel by air.

“It is still six times less safe to fly in Africa than the rest of the world,” IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani said, while stressing that the overall global accident rate has been cut by half since 1998.

“Air travel is the safest mode of transportation,” he said.

Russia and the former Soviet states had no accidents last year, and North America and Europe had lower accident rates than the world average, according to IATA, whose 240 member airlines represent 94 percent of scheduled international air traffic.

The biggest accident last year was a TAM Brasil flight crash on July 17, followed by a Kenya Airways crash on May 5 and one involving an Adam Air Indonesia flight on January 1.

IATA said poor flight crew training contributed to 20 percent of air accidents in 2007, and flight control and manual handling errors were factors in nearly 40 percent.

Maintenance problems played into 20 percent of the accidents recorded, it added.