Hills are biggest air-travel risk

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AIR TRAVELLERS are most likely to die in planes that smash into high ground such as the side of a mountain because of mistakes by pilots or crew, according to a survey.

Research into the 620 fatal air accidents since 1980 has isolated the most likely ways for passengers to meet their death and the most frequent causes. The world-wide study by the Civil Aviation Authority, the safety regulator of UK-registered planes and British airspace, found two-thirds of crashes were due to crew error.

At a meeting of UK airline bosses tomorrow the CAA will tell them the seven most likely circumstances behind accidents where passengers are killed. These are, in order of priority:

Controlled flight into terrain - mainly high ground such as mountains or hillsides;

Approach and landing accidents - a large number of accidents take place as a plane nears the runway;

Loss of control - pilot error or a failure of on-board systems;

Design-related accidents, including failures in plane design;

Weather-related accidents, including flying into bad weather against advice;

Occupant safety and survivability - failures in design or defects that prevent passengers leaving aircraft after a crash;

Mid-air collision, something that has not occurred in UK-controlled airspace.