...How Safe Are Airlines...

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With six crashes in the last six weeks killing close to 500 people, the loss of life in airliners worldwide this year already is greater than it was for all of 2004 (which was the safest in recent record). But of those six accidents, only one -- the Air France Airbus A340 that skidded off a runway in Toronto on August 2 -- involved a major carrier, and everyone on that flight survived. "The chances of crashing when you fly with airlines coming from outside of western Europe, North America and Australasia are an order of magnitude greater," says David Learmount, an editor at Flight International. "All modern airplanes are safe, but they may not be if they don't get maintained properly and the crews don't get trained properly," he told The Independent. The airplane that crashed in Venezuela on August 6, killing 160, had been flying nonstop for 20 hours while the rest of the airline's fleet was grounded to undergo urgent maintenance work. After the recent crash of a Helios 737 in Greece, relatives of the co-pilot said he had told them the airplane had safety problems that were being ignored by the company.