February 7, 1996 in Nation/World

Military Cuts Plane-Crash Rate

Compiled From Wire Services

The number of military aircraft accidents has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, making the rate of fatalities in military plane crashes comparable to that of commercial airliners.

Still, such accidents cost the Pentagon more than $1 billion a year, suggesting that while crashes have declined, the cost per accident has increased significantly.

Congressional investigators, in a report released Monday, found that the number of major accidents dropped from 309 in 1975 to 76 last year. Likewise, the number of deaths dropped from 285 to 85.

In an otherwise upbeat report, the study by the congressional General Accounting Office did question the process by which the military investigates such crashes. Ways were recommended to make investigative boards more independent from commanding officers.

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