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The number of aircraft accidents rose in 2010

The global death toll from air crashes rose by 13% to 828 last year, as the airline industry’s improving reputation for safety suffered a “disappointing” year.

Incidents in the Middle East, India and Pakistan accounted for more than six out of 10 aviation deaths last year, as the fatal accident rate worsened from one per 1.5m flights in 2009 – the industry’s safest year – to one in every 1.3m flights in 2010. The Ascend consultancy, which produced the figures, said the industry had endured a “poor” year with aircraft insurance claims reaching their highest total of $1.1bn (£700m).

“2010 was a disappointing year from the point of view of both safety and insurance with the number of fatal accidents and passenger fatalities both up on recent years,” said Paul Hayes, Ascend’s director of air safety. However, Hayes said the overall industry trend was still one of improvement, with only 2009, 2007 and 2006 producing better accident rates. The fatal accident rate in the 1990s was one per 700,000 flights while the rate for the 2000s was one per 1.2m.

“Despite the relatively poor performance in 2010, we believe that air safety is still improving and this has resulted in 100 fewer fatal accidents during the last decade than in the 1990s – on average, 10 fewer fatal accidents a year,” said Hayes.

The worst accident in 2010 involved an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 in May, when 158 passengers and crew were killed after the aircraft overran on landing at the Indian city of Mangalore. The second worst was an Airblue Airbus A321 crash in July in Islamabad, Pakistan, that killed 152 people, followed by an Afriqiyah Airbus A330 crash in May at Tripoli airport in Libya, which claimed the lives of 103 passengers and crew. The fourth worst involved an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, which crashed shortly after take off from Beirut airport and killed 90 people. These crashes accounted for 65% of the 2010 death toll, Ascend said.

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