World News

Russia the most dangerous place to fly in 2006

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia remains the most dangerous place to fly despite global improvements that made 2006 the safest year on record, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported on Tuesday.

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Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had an accident rate 13 times the global average, IATA said.

Improvements in Africa were part of a positive annual report from the Geneva-based trade organisation, which said major global accidents fell to 77 from 111 a year earlier.

The industry on average had 0.65 serious accidents per million flights for Western-built jets or one accident for every 1.5 million flights.

In the CIS the rate was 8.6 accidents per million flights, or twice the rate of Africa, where the level fell to 4.31 from 9.2.

IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said the industry’s expected growth of 5 to 6 percent per year would force airlines to continue to do better.

“The safety results for 2006 are impressive. Air transport remains the safest form of travel,” he said, but added: “The accident rate must decrease just to keep the actual number of accidents in check. The goal will always be zero accidents.”

IATA’s tally of accidents focuses on those which involve the loss of the aircraft.

Bad weather, miscommunication and lapses in crew training remain the key factors that cause accidents.

IATA, which includes some 250 airlines and more than 90 percent of the world’s scheduled international air traffic, endorses safety through a programme which helps airlines adopt global safety practices and standards.

Its latest report underscored the need for tighter safety for cargo airlines, noting cargo accounted for just 4 percent of traffic last year yet 24 percent of the serious accidents.