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A look at Air Canada’s safety record

crash landings among Air Canada flights are rare – the airline is considered one of the safest in the world and hasn’t had a fatal crash in over 20 years.
An Air Canada plane is shown after skidding off a runway as it landed early Sunday, March 29, 2015 in a snowstorm in Halifax, an airport official said, sending 23 people to hospital after passengers described the jet sliding on its belly before it came to a stop. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Transportation Safety Board Canada

TORONTO – Twenty-three people were sent to hospital Sunday after Air Canada Flight 624 crashed at Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia.

But crash landings among Air Canada flights are rare – the airline is considered one of the safest in the world and hasn’t had a fatal crash in over 20 years.

Klaus Goersch, the executive vice president of Air Canada, told reporters at the Enfield, Nova Scotia airport Sunday that he was unsure whether there had even been a crash in its fleet before.

“How often does this happen at Air Canada? You know I am not certain as how often this happens at Air Canada, I’m not aware of this happening before,” he said.

WATCH : Air Canada official comments on Flight 624 crash at Halifax airport

AirlineRatings.com, an Australian website which ranks airlines, considers Air Canada one of the safest in the world, giving the airline seven out of a total seven stars.

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The stars are handed out based on several factors including certification, bi-annual safety audits, FAA endorsement and whether the airline has been fatality free for 10 years.  Some other seven-star airlines include American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.

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Fatal crashes on any airline are rare. Air Canada has made more than 4.75 million flights in its history and, according to Airsafe.com, there has only been three fatal crashes.

READ MORE: A look at the safety record of the A320

The first fatal crash happened in 1970 when a plane increased its rate of descent during landing in Toronto.  The plane crashed, killing 100 passengers and nine crew members.

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In 1978, a tire burst on a plane leaving Pearson Airport and some of the tire debris was sucked into the second engine. The plane overran the runway, killing two of the 102 passengers on board.

Five years later, a fire on board an Air Canada flight near Cincinnati led to an emergency landing. The fire and smoke on board killed 23 of the 41 passengers on board.

One of the more serious, non-fatal incidents on board an Air Canada flight happened in 1997 when a flight bound for Fredericton, N.B. stalled and crashed during landing.

The plane hit the ground near the runway, and skidded nearly 2,100 feet before hitting some trees on the right side of the runway. The plane was destroyed but none of the 39 passengers were killed. Nine people were seriously injured.