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U.S. air carriers: No deaths for two years

U.S. airlines set a new record, going two years without a single passenger fatality.

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CNN -- For the first time since jet airliners took to the sky, U.S. carriers have gone two years without a single passenger fatality.

A fatality-free year in carrier history is rare, an analysis by the industry trade group, Air Transport Association, found. There have only been four separate years since 1958 without a passenger death, among them 1998 and 2003.

Thus, the two year streak in 2007 and 2008 is all the more remarkable when airlines ferried more than a billion passengers.

"That stellar record isn't something that came about by accident," ATA spokesman David Castelveter told CNN.

The industry, he said, "has been working hard for years, looking at past accidents so as not to have similar things happen in the future."

Arnold Barnett, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has extensively researched aviation safety, said improvements in technology have helped bring down the fatality figures.

"The manufacturers of the air frame are making better equipment. The power plant people, the engine manufacturers are doing the same. The crews are better trained. It's just an all-around effort," he said.

Last month, a Continental Airlines jet veered off a runway at Denver (Colorado) International Airport.

The accident injured 38 people, most from bruises and broken bones as frightened passengers tried to flee a fire that broke out on board Flight 1404.

But in that case as well, no one died.

"If you see a child in the airport today or tomorrow," said Barnett, "that child has a greater chance of growing up to be president than failing to reach his or her destination safely." To top of page

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