The world's airlines -- including passenger and cargo flights -- reported only 23 accidents resulting in 475 fatalities last year, compared with the 10-year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities per year, according to the Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network, a private online operation.
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 statistics for 2012, but it had previously noted that airline accidents have been on the decline.
In the U.S., the network's data base shows only two fatal commercial airline accidents last year, resulting in two deaths.
The worst accident of the year took place on June 3 when a MD-83 flown by Nigeria-based Dana Air crashed on approach to Lagos, killing 153 on board and 10 people on the ground.
In fact, Africa had 22% of all fatal airline accidents last year, even though the continent generates about 3% of the world's airline departures, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
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