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2012 Could Be "Safest Ever" For Airlines

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In November the International Air Transport Association said 2012 was on track to become its safest year on record and now Ascend, an aerospace analytics service, estimates that airline passenger fatalities and aircraft destroyed could set record lows for 2012 and that's not all good? Airline fatal accident rates are now twice as safe as they were 15 years ago, according to Paul Hayes, head of safety at Ascend. Fatal accidents now occur once for every 2.5 million flights. Hayes warns the improvement is part of a trend that could have negative effects on the insurance market.

According to Hayes, the concern arises from how a recent trend of improved safety affects premium income. Hayes says that low insurance claims and rising capacity in the market could lead to lower insurance premiums that are "too low to be able to maintain the market in the longer term." Nearly three quarters of airline deaths recorded in 2012 (as of November) were the result of two crashes. One involved a Boeing 737 that crashed in Pakistan in April, killing all aboard. Another accident in June killed all aboard a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 when it crashed in a busy suburb in Nigeria. While safety statistics have improved steadily on average for more than a decade, Ascend warns that "2012 does not represent a new norm for the world airlines."

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