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Release No: 645-97
December 01, 1997


Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced today that the Department of Defense has just completed one of its safest flying years on record despite a cluster of unrelated accidents during the final weeks of the fiscal year. The aircraft major accident rate was 1.5 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. This rate is unchanged from the previous two years.

The number of major aviation accidents was 68 in FY 97, the lowest number since the Department began keeping statistics in 1958. In FY 96 the department had 71 major aviation accidents. The number of destroyed aircraft, from all causes both on the ground or in-flight dropped to an all-time low of 54 in FY 97 down from 66 in the previous year. Aviation fatalities also declined from 116 to 76, the second lowest figure ever. In 1994, the Department had the lowest number of fatalities: 68.

Cohen ordered the first ever department-wide, 24-hour aviation stand-down in September following a series of accidents. At that time he issued a memorandum urging commanders "to thoroughly examine our training missions, ensuring that our crews are appropriately tasked and that missions are conducted as safely as possible consistent with training requirements."

"Perfection is impossible, but that is our goal for aviation safety. Every member of our aviation community is working for zero accidents. The lives of our aircrews and passengers are very precious, and each loss is a great tragedy," Cohen said, in a statement released Sept. 17, 1997.

Editor's note: Attached are charts showing the trends for major aircraft accident [not available] rates and destroyed aircraft. Additional information can be found on DoD's Safety and Occupational Health Homepage at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/safety.htm

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