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Air travel in 2012 was the safest since 1945, group says

Airlines reported 23 accidents and 475 fatalities in 2012; the 10-year average was 34 accidents and 773 fatalities a year, the Aviation Safety Network says.

January 07, 2013|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • Nigerians sift through the wreckage of a plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria, last June. The accident, the worst of 2012, killed 153 onboard and 10 people on the ground.
Nigerians sift through the wreckage of a plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria,… (European Pressphoto Agency )

Airfares grew and airline seats shrunk, but much more important was the good news about flying in 2012: It was the safest year for air travel since 1945.

The world's airlines reported only 23 accidents — including passenger and cargo flights — resulting in 475 fatalities last year, compared with the 10-year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities a year, according to Aviation Safety Network, a private online research group in the Netherlands.

The declining accident numbers are the result of several efforts by international aviation groups to require audits of airlines around the world to comply with safety standards, said Harro Ranter, president of the network.

"I think all of these efforts combined are paying off," he said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has not released its 2012 statistics but it previously noted that airline accidents have been on the decline.

The network's database shows only two fatal commercial airline accidents in the U.S. last year, resulting in two deaths.

The worst accident of the year took place June 3 when an MD-83 jetliner flown by Nigeria-based Dana Air crashed on approach to Lagos, killing 153 onboard and 10 people on the ground.

In fact, 22% of all fatal airline accidents last year occurred in Africa, even though the continent generates about 3% of the world's airline departures, according to Aviation Safety Network.

Hotel chains targeted by NRA critics

National Rifle Assn. opponents are criticizing two of the world's biggest hotel companies because they give discounts to NRA members.

Global advocacy site Avvaz.com has urged its followers to go on Facebook and sound off against Best Western International and Wyndham Hotel Group for affiliating with the NRA. (Avvaz means "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages.)

Wyndham operates the Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8, Travelodge and Howard Johnson hotels, among others. Best Western is one of the world's largest hotel chains, with more than 4,000 hotels in about 100 countries.

"It's time for mainstream companies like Wyndham Hotels to get out of bed with the extremist NRA," said Joseph Huff-Hannon, a senior campaigner at Avvaz.

On Facebook, Wyndham has responded to negative comments about its connection to the NRA with the following statement:

"Wyndham Worldwide is a hospitality company focused on our service promise to be responsive, be respectful and deliver great experiences to our customers, guests, partners and communities, as well as to each other. As part of our company's core values, we serve diverse individuals and organizations."

Best Western has not responded to the Facebook criticism, but it has received some comments of support for its NRA connections.

"Thanks for supporting the Constitution and the NRA," one person wrote on the hotel's Facebook page.

TSA defends airport screeners

The Transportation Security Administration says airport screeners are not sitting around giggling at naked images of travelers.

Such unprofessional behavior by officers who look at images made by full-body scanners is unlikely because screeners sit alone in private rooms, trying to spot weapons hidden beneath clothes of screened passengers, the TSA said.

"The resolution room is used only for the viewing of the images and is not a gathering place or break room for other officers as the officer viewing the images has to be focused in order to prevent any dangerous items from entering the airport," the TSA said in an online post last week.

The TSA made the statement in response to a post supposedly written by a former TSA screener on the blog Taking Sense Away.

The author of the blog said he had witnessed "a whole lot of officers laughing and clowning in regard to some of your nude images, dear passenger."

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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