The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified pilot handling as a major cause of global airline accidents in 2009, accounting for 30% of all accidents.

Pilot handling has been highlighted for the first time. It differs from pilot error in that it also includes judgement and procedures.

With the analysis, IATA has urged for a competency-based approach to training real skills rather than airline compliance with the minimum regulatory requirements for pilots to gain and maintain a pilot licence.

The analysis reports a fall on the accident rate in 2009 at 0.71 per million flights.

IATA also revealed a decrease in the number of accidents involving Western-built jets – 19 for 2009, compared with 22 in 2008, and 90 involving all aircraft types in 2009 compared with 109 in 2008.

Regional analysis for the year showed that Africa fared worst at 9.94 serious accidents per million flights, compared with a rate of 2.12 in the previous year.