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Airbus calls for new black box safety measures

French aircraft manufacturer Airbus has pushed for new measures on how an airplane's "black box" is recovered in an emergency, following what has been one of the worst year's for flight safety in recent memory.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer for Customers John Leahy said the group is urging airlines to adopt new black box safety measures following the December crash of a Airbus A320 plane flying on the AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

"We have a plan for the airplane gets into trouble to eject the black box out of the aircraft and on the surface of the water, it would float with its pinging radio signal and allow it to be found very very quickly rather than sinking to the bottom, where it could be miles deep in the ocean in some wreckage somewhere," Leahy told CNBC.

"We think this should be adopted by all certification authorities around the world, I think the airlines will find it very useful as well," he added.

The black box, or flight data recorder contains detailed information about the aircraft's operation and route. Divers from the Indonesian navy have found one of black boxes and the cockpit voice recorder from the AirAsia plane that fell from the sky that killed 162 people, which should shed light on how the aircraft crashed.

"Accidents will inevitably happen, people are human, machines are machines," Leahy said.

"Safety is our number one priority and to make airplanes safe, as they say the most dangerous part of your trip is the drive to the airport. But when an accident does happen, we need to know what happened, why it happened and that's the black box, it is recording all the parameters of the aircraft."

Airbus managed to cling to the top spot in commercial plane orders, confirming it outsold Boeing last year, while failing to close a gap in deliveries that leaves its U.S. rival as the world's largest plane manufacturer for the third year running.

The unexpected lead in aircraft orders, which confirms a Reuters report last week, comes after an unprecedented surge that saw the planemaker book over 400 plane orders in December.

Airbus won 1,456 net orders in 2014, down from 1,503 a year earlier but enough to pass Boeing's total of 1,432.

The Airbus Group unit delivered a company record of 629 aircraft in 2014, up slightly from 626 a year earlier but lagging behind Boeing's industry high of 723.

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Total deliveries by the two plane giants rose 6 percent to a record 1,352 aircraft, reflecting fleet renewals and the rapid growth of Asia as an aviation hub. But some analysts say demand may have peaked as plummeting oil prices - although good for most airlines - reveal broader economic concerns.

Leahy shrugged off oil price concerns, adding that lower fuel prices "definitely helps" as it enables airlines to make more money.

"When they make more money, they accelerate their fleet plans," he said.

"In Asia, a lot of people are just moving into into the middle class – they haven't been on an aircraft – and now they are being told that they could take an aircraft for business, they like it they have a bit of disposable income and they want to take their family on a plane instead of a train. This demand is enormous and it is being met by these low cost carriers.The number of middle class people in this region is growing exponentially over the next 10 to 20 years and they want to fly," he added,

Deliveries of the A320 narrow-body jet family, which generates much of Airbus's cash, slipped to 490 aircraft from 493 a year earlier but trumped deliveries of the Boeing 737 range, ending a deficit seen between January and November.

Airbus delivered 30 A380 superjumbos, a model whose future direction has been left uncertain as the company tries to win sales.

Reuters contributed to this report.