Air accidents fall to 40-year low
The number of air accidents fell to its lowest level for more than 40 years in 2007, the Aircraft Crashes Record Office has said.
The Geneva-based organisation recorded 136 accidents internationally over the 12 months to December 2007, against 164 the previous year, making it the best year since 1963. The number of victims fell below the 1000 level to 965, down by a quarter from 2006 and the best year since 2004, the office said.
The organisation defines aviation accidents as any event where an aircraft has been so badly damaged that it cannot fly again, regardless of any fatalities. North America accounted for 32% of all accidents in 2007, Asia 23%, Africa 14%, South America and Europe both 10%, Central America 9% and Oceania 1%. No significant accident occurred in Europe, making the continent the world's safest for air travel, the organisation said.
The single worst accident was the crash of a TAM Brazil Airbus A320 in São Paulo on 17 July, which killed 199 people.
The incident at Heathrow on 17 January involving a BA Boeing 777-236 with 136 passengers onboard is, of course, not included in the 2007 figures. At the time of going to press, examination of the aircraft systems and engines was ongoing.
Initial indications from interviews and Flight Recorder analyses show the flight and approach to have progressed normally until the aircraft was established on late finals for Runway 27L. At approximately 600 ft and 2 miles from touch down, the Autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond. Following further demands for increased thrust from the Autothrottle, and subsequently the flight crew moving the throttle levers, the engines similarly failed to respond. The aircraft speed reduced and the aircraft descended onto the grass short of the paved runway surface.
The investigation is now focused on more detailed analysis of the Flight Recorder information, collecting further recorded information from various system modules and examining the range of aircraft systems that could influence engine operation.