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Airlines need to improve despite 'safest' year: IATA chief
[HONG KONG] Last year was the safest ever for commercial aviation despite high-profile incidents such as the disappearance of Flight MH370, but the industry is still working on new technologies to improve its record, IATA chief said Monday.
While more people died in air accidents in 2014 than in previous years, the rate of fatalities per flight dropped to its lowest point on record, the aviation body said.
"Despite aviation safety being in the headlines through much of 2014, flying is safe, and even importantly we are working to make it even safer," IATA head Tony Tyler said in a speech in Hong Kong.
Last year 641 people died in 12 fatal accidents, compared to the average of 517 fatalities from 19 accidents between 2009 and 2013, according to the body, which represents some 250 airlines.
That translates into "hull losses" - when an accident is so bad the plane cannot be repaired - of 0.23 per million flights, or one every 4.4 million flights.
Over the past five years, that has averaged 0.58 per million flights.
Last year saw a series of high-profile air accidents, including the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board and en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March.
Mr Tyler said the aviation industry was working to improve flight tracking technology to make it easier to locate missing planes.
"The industry is united in understanding it's got to do something to improve its tracking (equipment)," he said, adding that flying remains "the safest way to travel".
Measures will include requiring aircraft to report their positions every 15 minutes, and exploring how to use space-based technologies to track flights, he said.
The IATA figures also did not take into account the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July as it was not an accident. All 298 people on board were killed.
That same month, a TransAsia Airways flight crashed after an aborted landing near the airport in Penghu, a scenic island group in the Taiwan Strait, leaving 48 dead and 10 injured.
In December, an AirAsia jet crashed into the Java Sea while flying from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.