Aviation

Aviation

WORLD AVIATION ACCIDENTS

In 2012 almost 3 billion people flew safely on 37.5 million flights, according to the International Air Transport Association. The global accident rate (as measured by the rate of hull losses on Western built jets) was 0.20 in 2012, or about one accident for every 5 million flights, and was the lowest in aviation history. The global accident rate was down 46 percent from 2011, when the accident rate was 0.37 or one accident for every 2.7 million flights. (A hull loss is an accident in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired.) There were 75 accidents in 2012 (on Eastern and Western built aircraft), down from 92 in 2011. For further information see the International Air Transport Association.

The deadliest world aviation accident was the collision of two Boeing 747 passenger planes on the runway of an airport in the Spanish island of Tenerife in 1977. The crash resulted in the deaths of 583 out of 644 passengers according to the Geneva-based Aircraft Crashes Record Office’s list of Worst Aviation Accidents.

UNITED STATES

In the United States the National Transportation Safety Board compiles data on aviation flight hours, accidents and fatalities for commercial and general aviation.

Commercial airlines are divided into two categories according to the type of aircraft used: aircraft with 10 or more seats and aircraft with fewer than 10 seats. The nonscheduled commercial aircraft with more than 10 seats are also called charter airlines. Commercial airlines flying aircraft with fewer than 10 seats include commuter (scheduled) airlines, and on-demand air taxis. General aviation includes all U.S. noncommercial or privately owned aircraft.

In 2012, 742 million people flew on commercial airlines in the United States, compared with 734 million in 2011 and 723 million in 2010. The Federal Aviation Administration projects that 1 billion people will fly on commercial airlines in the United States annually by 2027.

AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 2012 (1)

    Number of accidents     
  Flight hours
(000)
Total Fatal Number of
fatalities (2)
Accidents per 100,000
flight hours
Commercial airlines          
     10 or more seats          
          Scheduled 17,449 27 0 0 0.155
          Nonscheduled 453 0 0 0 0
     Less than 10 seats          
          Commuter 320 4 0 0 1.251
          On-demand 2,902 37 9 15 1.270
General aviation 21,697 1,471 271 432 6.780
Total civil aviation NA 1,539 280 447 NA

(1) Preliminary data. Totals do not add because of collisions involving aircraft in different categories.
(2) Includes nonpassenger deaths.

NA=Data not available.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board. 

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  • There were 1,539 civil aviation accidents in 2012, down from 1,550 in 2011. Total fatalities fell to 447 from 485.
  • For the third year in a row, there were no fatalities on large scheduled commercial airlines. In addition, there were no fatalities on large nonscheduled airlines (charter airlines) in 2012, for the second consecutive year.
  • Small commuter airlines had four accidents in both 2011 and 2012, but there were no fatalities for the sixth year in a row.
  • The number of small on-demand airline (air taxi) accidents dropped from 50 in 2011 to 37 in 2012.
  • There were 1,471 general aviation (noncommercial) accidents in 2012, almost unchanged from 1,470 in 2011. These accidents resulted in 432 deaths, down from 448 in 2011.

 

LARGE AIRLINE ACCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 2003-2012

Year Flight hours Total accidents Fatal accidents Total fatalities (2) Total accidents per 100,000 flight hours
2003 17,467,700 54 2 22 0.309
2004 18,882,503 30 2 14 0.159
2005 19,390,029 40 3 22 0.206
2006 19,263,209 33 2 50 0.171
2007 19,637,322 28 1 1 0.143
2008 19,126,766 28 2 3 0.146
2009 17,626,832 30 2 52 0.170
2010 17,750,986 29 1 2 0.163
2011 17,962,965 31 0 0 0.173
2012 (3) 17,902,000 27 0 0 0.151

(1) Scheduled and unscheduled planes with more than 10 seats.
(2) Includes nonpassenger deaths.
(3) Preliminary.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board.

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FATAL WORLD AVIATION ACCIDENTS, 2008-2012

Year Fatal accidents (1) Fatalities (1) Accident rate (2)
2008 23 502 0.81
2009 18 685 0.71
2010 23 786 0.61
2011 22 486 0.37
2012 15 414 0.20

(1) On Eastern and Western built jet aircraft.
(2) Measured in hull losses per million flights of Western built jet aircraft. A hull loss is an accident in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired.

Source: International Air Transport Association.

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THE TEN DEADLIEST AVIATION CRASHES

Rank Date Location Country Operator Fatalities
1 Mar. 27, 1977 Tenerife Spain Pan Am, KLM 583
2 Aug. 12, 1985 Yokota AFB Japan JAL 520
3 Nov. 12, 1996 New Delhi India Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kazakhstan Airlines 349
4 Mar. 3, 1974 Ermenonville France Turkish Airlines 346
5 Jun. 23, 1985 Atlantic Ocean   Air India 329
6 Aug. 19, 1980 Jedda Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Airlines 301
7 Jul. 3, 1988 Persian Gulf   Iran Air 290
8 Feb. 19, 2003 Kerman Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force 275
9 May 25, 1979 Chicago U.S. American Airlines 271
10 Dec. 21, 1988 Lockerbie U.K. Pan Am 259

Source: Aircraft Crashes Record Office, Geneva (baaa-acro.com/Statistics.html).