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Aviation and Plane Crash Statistics

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It is accurate to say that plane travel is among the safest modes of transportation. However, when aviation accidents do happen, the results are often catastrophic. There are no such things as minor airplane collisions or crash landings, these occurrences are devastating, life-altering events. Aviation accident rates have gone down in recent years, but the growing popularity of private jet travel and helicopter flights may soon reverse that trend.

In the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tracks aviation accident statistics and investigates aviation disasters.

In 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board estimated a total of nearly 24 million flight hours. Of these 24 million hours, 6.84 of every 100,000 flight hours yielded an airplane crash, and 1.19 of every 100,000 yielded a fatal crash. This is down from an all-time high of 9.08 accidents per 100,000 hours in 1994. These numbers are higher for private flights, but private flights are much harder to document due to lax government regulation and non-reporting. Private plane crashes have been on the decline since the 1980s, but user error and insufficient training still contributes to many more accidents than are necessary each year.

aviation crash statistics

“Statistics show that up to 80 percent of all aviation accidents can be attributed to human error.”

Statistics show that up to 80 percent of all aviation accidents can be attributed to human error. The most dangerous times include takeoff and landing and the time periods before and after these events. Pilot error is thought to account for 53% of aircraft accidents, with mechanical failure (21%) and weather conditions (11%) following behind.

Even in the best training situations, where flight crews undertake comprehensive simulator-based training, human beings tend to revert to previous habitual behaviors. Training helps, but it takes people time to develop muscle memory which can result in catastrophic unintended consequences, particularly when flying a highly maneuverable aircraft.

The NTSB database, which has records of every reportable accident since 2008, shows over 13 thousand accidents with at least one issue pertaining to personnel. All these accidents include over 20 thousand findings related to personnel, with an average of 1.54 per accident. 

On the other hand, its important to note that other factors are always in play when pilot error occurs. The aircraft, environmental issues, and organizational issues are a few examples.

How Safe is Air Travel?

Compare it to other major forms of transportation – with 0.04 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, train travel is much more dangerous than airplanes’ 0.01 deaths per 100 million miles. However, air travel is only as safe as the operator, the equipment, and the training procedures that underlie the flight itself. Without stringent aviation safety training and controls, air travel is unsafe for private and commercial passengers.

How Many Plane Crashes Have Taken Place in 2022 So Far?

Not accounting for small planes and helicopter crashes, there have been 2 plane crashes in 2022 so far.

  • The crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane in the mountains of Guangxi near Guangzhou, leading to the death of all 133 on board.
  • The crash of a DHL Aviation Boeing 757-200 freighter near the runway at Juan Santamaria Airport in San Juan, Costa Rica. All crew members managed to escape with minor injuries.

Aviation Crashes Statistics

Our team worked on gathering data on all aviation crashes from 1982 until the latest available data for 2019. We sorted the total injuries into 3 tiers: fatal injuries, serious injuries, and minor injuries. Here’s a chart that visualizes all the aviation crashes and injuries we’ve analyzed for this study:

Additionally, here’s the full table of data for all aviation crashes that took place between 1982 and 2019.

Please note that the data for 2019 is incomplete which explains the sharp decline in crashes.

Event Year Count of Event Year Total Fatal Injuries Total Serious Injuries Total Minor Injuries
1982 3593 1585 727 998
1983 3556 1273 673 1048
1984 3457 1229 697 1047
1985 3096 1648 612 1108
1986 2880 1180 619 970
1987 2828 1237 554 936
1988 2730 1195 620 1117
1989 2544 1532 518 1029
1990 2518 999 589 908
1991 2462 1087 535 913
1992 2355 1273 609 775
1993 2313 865 505 910
1994 2257 1183 529 763
1995 2309 1236 480 731
1996 2187 2533 532 729
1997 2148 1296 497 1026
1998 2226 1325 388 807
1999 2209 1221 491 1206
2000 2220 1765 501 1256
2001 2063 1709 478 612
2002 2020 1386 432 706
2003 2085 1374 480 772
2004 1952 978 457 603
2005 2031 1689 426 620
2006 1851 1489 420 473
2007 2016 1335 402 543
2008 1931 1293 511 786
2009 1805 1207 381 625
2010 1821 1390 343 589
2011 1889 959 432 488
2012 1861 1007 336 464
2013 1561 839 358 671
2014 1547 1438 321 469
2015 1600 1112 364 473
2016 1628 835 297 468
2017 1597 677 295 401
2018 1581 847 331 437
2019 640 477 120 129
Total 83374 47719 17862 28607

Nearly Half of All Aviation Crashes Happen During Landing or Takeoff

One fact becomes clear after looking at historic aviation crash data and focusing on the phase of flight during which the crash took place: Landing and Takeoff are the most complex phases of flight for any airplane. Nearly half of all the aviation crashes we analyzed covering the period 1983 – 2019 took place during either landing or take off procedures. These phases place a heavy load on airline crews and ground teams as well.

The tough combination of constant airplane configuration changes, having to navigate the plane, communicating with Air Traffic Control, and keeping an eye on ever-changing weather conditions increases the potential for unanticipated events which sometimes leads to a crash.

This following chart visualizes the disparity in aviation crashes when looking at the phase of flight in which the accident took place:

General Aviation Aircraft Involved in 78% of Crashes

Furthermore, our team analyzed the types of flights involved in the most crashes and found that general aviation aircraft were involved in almost 78% of all crashes. General aviation aircraft include all civilian flights except for passenger or cargo transport that is scheduled by an airline company.

One of the main reasons why general aviation planes are involved in so many crashes is that there are many more of them flying than scheduled commercial flights.

However, if we look at the percentage of fatal accidents by the type of flight, we see that general aviation was involved in almost 45%, while non-US commercial and other flights share almost half of crashes that involved a fatality.

It’s Tough to Investigate an Aviation Accident

No matter what the aviation accident statistics, one fact remains clear – investigating an aviation accident is time-consuming and complex. It’s also necessary when an aviation-related lawsuit is filed. If you have been injured in an airplane accident or your loved one has lost his or her life, don’t delay. Your time to file could be limited. Call an experienced, reputable law firm for the help you deserve. Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP represents personal injury victims nationwide. We have what it takes to fight for you in court and reconstruct what happened to you in the air. Call today for a free case consultation.

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If you have a legal matter you would like to discuss with an attorney from our firm, please call us at (310) 477-1700 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and we will get back to you.

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