In a release by the IATA (International Air Transport Association) on Wednesday, statistics indicate that airline safety rates, measured by crashes and passenger fatalities, have decreased by 50 percent thus far in 2011. With this trend, 2011 will go down as one of the safest years in the global airline industry.

IATA’s study included approximately 240 airlines in 118 countries that are members of the IATA and who operate internationally. This group represents nearly 85% of all global airline traffic.

The IATA indicated that the improvements were observed globally with the exception of Russia where airline crashes and passenger fatalities had a marked increase over a year ago. The high profile crash of a charter flight at Yaroslavl that killed 45 passengers, of which 37 were members of the Lokomotiv Hockey Team was the tragic low point in Russian aviation this year. Fellow Slovak Pavol Demitra was one of the victims in the tragedy.

To reach it’s conclusions, the IATA calculates airline safety performance by examining the number of accidents and aircraft losses per million take offs.

By these measures, North America has an accident rate so far this year of 1.18 per million takeoffs against 1.51 in 2010, Europe has a rate of 1.39 per million takeoffs against 1.59, Asia-Pacific’s rate per million takeoffs is 1.39 against 2.61, Latin America 4.57 against 6.85, and Africa has 6.34 against 17.11.

On a global measure, the rate so far this year is 4.57 per million takeoffs against 6.85 in 2010.