2012 safest year to fly since 1945

2012 safest year to fly since 1945

Last year contained the longest period without a fatal airline accident in modern aviation history
In 2012, 11 commercial passenger flights were involved in accidents. Air travel hasn't been this safe since the end of World War II.

Encouraging news for aerophobics. The year 2012 was extremely safe for air travel, according to data released this month by the Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network (ASN). 

The independent organization recorded a global total of 23 fatal airline accidents, resulting in 475 fatalities and 36 ground fatalities in 2012. Of those, only 11 accidents involved passenger flights -- the lowest since the International Civil Aviation Organization began collecting data in 1945 -- and a vast improvement over the 10-year average of 16.

Both figures are lower than the 10-year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities, said ASN in a statement.

“Since 1997, the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, probably thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry,” said ASN President Harro Ranter.

Early in 2012, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called 2011 the safest year in aviation since 1945. The IATA counted 22 accidents and 486 fatalities in 2011, or one less accident but 11 more fatalities than the ASN's figures for 2012.

More on CNN: 2013: The year ahead in air travel

The year's worst crashes

ASN says that 2012 also marked the longest period without a fatal airline accident in modern aviation history. This record period of 68 days ended on January 30 with the crash of an Antonov 28 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Bhoja Air Boeing 737 crash on April 20 in Pakistan ended the longest period (632 days, since July 28, 2010) without an airline accident killing more than 100 people.

The worst accident of 2012 occurred on June 3, when a Dana Air MD-83 crashed while on approach to Lagos, Nigeria, killing 153 on board and 10 on the ground.

"Three out of 23 accident airplanes (13 percent) were operated by airlines on the E.U. 'black list' as opposed to 25 percent the year before," says ASN. "The E.U. added a total of 38 airlines to their list of airlines banned within the E.U., and removed two airlines based on improved safety records."

Africa is considered the least safe continent for air travel, accounting for 22 percent of all fatal airline accidents in 2012. A bleak figure considering the continent accounts for only 3 percent of all world aircraft departures.

At what phase in a flight do most accidents occur? If the 2012 statistics are anything to go by, a plane is most likely to crash during the aircraft's landing approach.

ASN notes that of the year's 23 accidents, only one took place during takeoff, five during initial climb, three en route, 10 during the landing approach and four upon landing. 

Click here for an ASN infographic highlighting the 2012 accident statistics. 

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