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Fatalities rose for U.S. on-demand flights

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. aviation regulators issued a report Thursday indicating there was an increase in crashes of on-demand flights involving air ambulances and tour flights.

The National Transportation Safety Board report said 66 people died in 56 so-called on-demand flight accidents last year. The figure is the highest in eight years and marks an increase of 13 deaths over 2007.

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"While the overall aviation safety record in the United States is among the best in the world, the 2008 accident statistics reveal a mixed picture," said NTSB acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. "We are particularly concerned with the spike in fatalities in on-demand air charter operations."

Rosenker said there is "a lot of room for improvement" among on-demand charter operations.

"We continue to do everything we can to identify the safety issues involved, and to advocate for the adoption of our recommendations that will make the skies safer," he said.

The accident rate among on-demand flights was 1.52 per 100,000 flight hours, which is nearly unchanged from 2007's rate of 1.54, a statement said.

The number of accidents involving large commercial carriers was 28 in both 2008 and 2007. In both scheduled and non-scheduled services, the airlines carried 753 million passengers on more than 10.8 million flights without a passenger fatality.

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In general aviation, there were 1,559 accidents last year, 275 of which involved fatalities. In 2008, there were 495 general aviation fatalities, or one fewer than the previous year.

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