2003 Safest Ever For Airlines Worldwide

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African Stats Blight Record...

Africa continues to be the front-runner in a race no one wants to win. Saturday's crash of an Egyptian airliner in the Red Sea punctuated a report by the Aviation Safety Network calling the continent the most unsafe place to fly in the world. It accounts for less than 3 percent of airline departures, but Africa claimed 28 percent of fatal airline crashes in 2003 in what was the safest year ever for the world's airlines. According to the report, there were just 25 fatal airline crashes worldwide in 2003, easily eclipsing the previous record of 35 set in 2001. To put that into perspective, Chicago O'Hare (ORD), alone, saw 911,917 departures and landings in 2001, according to the Airports Council International. The accidents of 2003 killed 677 passengers and crew, the third-lowest on record (644 in 1984 and 648 in 1954). Although the accidents were fewer in number in 2003, they were apparently more serious. Just 13 percent of people survived the crashes in 2003, far less than the most recent 10-year average of 32 percent. The usual suspects remain the leading causes of fatal crashes. Controlled flight into terrain was the most likely cause of nine accidents, while eight occurred during the approach and landing phase of flight. Loss of control and the elusive "human factors" round out the list.