* IATA says not one plane lost by its 240 members
* Africa heads accident rate, Russia improves
* Aviation "safest way to travel" - IATA chief
By Robert Evans
GENEVA, Dec 13 Global airlines are heading for
the safest year on record with an average by the end of November
of only one accident of any type for every 5.3 million flights,
the international airline body IATA reported on Thursday.
The Geneva-based IATA also said that so far in 2012 for the
first time since the infancy of the industry in the second and
third decades of the last century there had been not one loss of
a Western-built jet aircraft among its 240 members.
"As of November 30, if you were to take a flight every day,
the odds are that you would fly 14,000 years without an
accident," its chief safety officer Gunther Matschnigg told
reporters at a briefing.
Overall fatalities across the industry, including airlines
that do not belong to IATA or have not yet been admitted because
they do not conform to its safety standards, came to 401,
compared with 490 in the January-November period in 2011,
Total world accident rates involving Western- and
Eastern-built jets and turboprop aircraft were down to 2.14 per
million flights from 2.58 at this time last year.
Among IATA members, who include all major and many smaller
airlines operating international routes but not budget, or
low-cost, carriers, the rate tumbled to 1.03 from 1.89.
For IATA, accidents include everything from crashes
involving fatalities, in-flight damage and undercarriage
failures on landing to runway or apron collisions with other
planes or airport vehicles.
IATA director general Tony Tyler, former head of Hong Kong's
Cathay Pacific, said the figures were "another proof that
aviation is the safest way to travel."
FEWER ACCIDENTS FATAL
Matschnigg said only 7 percent of all accidents this year
around the globe involved the loss of Western-built jets, 6
percent less than last year, and just 15 percent of all
accidents were fatal against 26 percent this time last year.
Europe had only a handful of non-fatal accidents involving
Western-built aircraft against none at all in 2011 and North
America reduced its rate to zero against just a few last year.
The rate of accidents affecting these aircraft per million
flights declined even in safety-challenged Africa from 4.04 to
3.90, according to IATA.
But in terms of overall accidents involving all types of
aircraft operated by IATA and non-IATA airlines, the continent
had the world's worst record so far this year with 12.69 per
million flights against 8.08 last year, Matschnigg said.
Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, long
seen as accident-prone because of doubtful aircraft and shaky
maintenance, also saw a marked improvement this year, recording
only 4.29 accidents per million flights against 10.65 last year.
Latin America and the Caribbean also improved, reducing
their accident rate for all aircraft from 5.33 per million
flights in the first 11 months of 2011 to only 1.37 so far this
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)