More die in air crashes as number of accidents levels out

THE number of people killed in airliner crashes rose last year, new figures show.

There were 749 deaths in 2009, compared with 583 in 2008, statistics from Flight International magazine revealed.

Fatal accidents last year included the 30 June crash into the Atlantic of an Air France Airbus A330 with the loss of all 216 passengers and 12 crew.

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Another fatal accident last year was the 15 July crash in Iran of a Caspian Airlines Tupolev plane, in which 156 passengers and 12 crew were killed.

Flight International operations and safety editor David Learmount said the period from 2000 to 2009 saw the "lowest accident rates in aviation history by a considerable margin".

But he said that the constant improvement in aviation safety over the last few decades was "now stagnating" and there had been "virtually no improvement in safety in the ten years from 2000 to 2009".

Mr Learmount said that since the beginning of the "Noughties", and particularly since 2003, the number of annual fatal airline accidents had almost levelled out, and 2009 figures continued this trend.