Aviation Accident Information & Statistics


Of the major carriers in the U.S. and Canada (minimum 5 million total flights) only one has avoided a fatal airplane crash. In more than 15 million flights, Southwest Airlines has not had a passenger fatality. Contrast that to American Airlines, which has had 13 events in more than 25 million flights or United Airlines, which has had 11 events in more than 22 million flights or US Airways, which has had 9 events in about 18 million flights.

Airline Number of flights Number of fatal accidents
Southwest >15,000,000 0
American >25,000,000 13
United >22,000,000 11
US Airways >18,000,000 9

A Southwest Airlines plane was involved in a fatal accident, however. On December 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines flight 1248, a Boeing 737-7H4, ran off the departure end of runway 31 center (31C) after landing at Chicago Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The airplane rolled through a blast fence, an airport perimeter fence, and onto an adjacent roadway, where it struck an automobile before coming to a stop. A child in the automobile was killed, one automobile occupant received serious injuries, and three other automobile occupants received minor injuries. Eighteen of the airplane occupants received minor injuries.

From 2000-2009, the average number of fatal accidents per year for all U.S. scheduled and nonscheduled (charter) flights (airlines) was 2.3. This included six fatal crashes in 2001, four of which occurred during the events of September 11 of that year. The only year with no fatal aviation crashes was 2002.

Causes of Fatal Accidents by Decade (percentage)

Cause 1950s 1960s 1970s
Pilot Error 40 32 24
Pilot Error (weather related) 11 18 14
Pilot Error (mechanical related) 7 5 4
Total Pilot Error 58 57 42
Other Human Error 0 8 9
Weather 16 10 13
Mechanical Failure 21 20 23
Sabotage 5 5 11
Other Cause 0 2 2
Cause 1980s 1990s 2000s All
Pilot Error 25 27 25 29
Pilot Error (weather related) 17 21 17 16
Pilot Error (mechanical related) 2 4 3 4
Total Pilot Error 44 53 45 50
Other Human Error 6 8 9 7
Weather 15 9 8 12
Mechanical Failure 21 21 28 22
Sabotage 13 10 9 9
Other Cause 1 0 1 1

The table above is compiled from the PlaneCrashInfo.com accident database and represents 1,300 fatal accidents involving commercial aircraft, worldwide, from 1950 through 2008 for which a specific cause is known. Aircraft with 10 or fewer people aboard, military aircraft, private aircraft, and helicopters are not included.

Type of Flight Fatalities per million flight hours
Airliner (Scheduled and nonscheduled Part 121) 4.03
Commuter Airline (Scheduled Part 135) 10.74
Commuter Plane (Nonscheduled Part 135 – Air taxi on demand) 12.24
General Aviation (Private Part 91) 22.43

Sources: NTSB Accidents and Accident Rates by NTSB Classification 1998-2007

Which types of planes have crashed the most?

Here are the 10 types of planes with the most fatal crashes per million flights.

  1. Concorde—11.36
  2. Embraer Bandeirante—3.07
  3. Fokker F28—1.67
  4. Airbus A310—1.47
  5. Boeing 747—0.74
  6. Embraer Brasilia—0.71
  7. Boeing DC10—0.66
  8. Boeing DC9—0.57
  9. AirbusA300—0.53
  10. Boeing MD11—0.52



More Aviation Accident Statistics

Aviation Lawyers

The aviation attorneys at Nurenberg Paris will thoroughly investigate your claim when you’ve been injured in an aviation accident. We take the time to research important airplane information and plane crash statistics to ensure we are well-versed and fully prepared for your case. We’ve been helping airline crash victims since 1928, and you can count us to help you, too.