THE NUMBER of fatalities in aircraft crashes in the first six months of 1992 was the lowest for eight years, according to a survey by Flight International magazine, writes Christian Wolmar.
There were 286 deaths in that period, compared with 486 in the same period in 1991 and an average over the past 10 years of 419.
While the overall record is encouraging, the survey reveals that pilot error was wholly or partly responsible for at least 11 out of the 16 airliner incidents.
In what the magazine describes as a 'macabre perennial', five of the aircraft crashed into high ground. These incidents include the worst accident when an Air Inter Airbus A320 crashed into hills near Strasbourg, in France, killing 82 of the 96 people on board. Preliminary evidence suggests the crew entered the wrong information into the computer for the plane's descent.
Bad weather was a factor in eight accidents but only two other crashes involved passenger jets. In New York 27 out of 51 passengers were killed when a USAir Fokker F28 crashed on take-off; and all 47 occupants died when a Compania Panamena de Aviacon Boeing 737 broke up at 25,000ft (12,000m).