It’s been said that flying in an airplane is one of the safest methods of travel that exist today. The safety records don’t lie, but crashes do happen. When they do happen, because of the nature of the aircraft itself, it can be difficult to survive such an accident. That’s why some people can be so afraid of flying because their safety is out of their control. The odd of being killed on a single airline flight are 1 in 29.4 million. There is a 24% survival rate of passengers in a fatal crash.
There haven’t been more than 15 total airplane accidents with a fatality encompassing all airlines with more than 18 passengers involved since the year 2000.
Since 1960, accident rates have been cut by nearly two-thirds, dropping dramatically from the 35 per year highs of 1969-1970. When accidents that include a minimum of 99 fatalities are involved, the rates are generally less than 5 per year, with the exception of 1972-1973. Considering the amount of flights that are flown on an annual basis and the overall amount of fatalities that are involved, the statistics prove that flying is one of the safest ways to travel.
3 Facts About Airplane Crash Statistics
1. The airline with the most crashes that is based in North America is American Airlines, having 13 fatal crashes since 1970.
2. Three airlines that are based in North America have never experienced a fatal airplane crash in their history of operations.
3. The two most common places for a fatal accident to occur on an airplane is either during the takeoff phase or during the landing phase, accounting for more than half of all accidents.
Takeaway: It is strangely comforting to see that there are three North American airlines that have not experienced a fatality crash, even with hundreds of thousands of flights between them. That should give everyone some extra confidence when it comes to stepping onto an airplane to travel. With 57% of the exposure during a flight during cruising, but only 8% of fatal accidents occurring during this portion of the flight, it might just be ok to take off your seatbelt for a while and wander about the cabin for a while.
It is also important to note that many of the incidents of airplane crashes from US airlines involve the terrorist strikes of 2001. Without these included, the North American statistics would be competitive with other airlines around the world. It should also be noted that small general aviation crashes are not reflected in North American data as many backcountry areas aren’t served by commercial industry aircraft, but are instead served by small business mom and pop type of organizations instead.
The Statistics in Latin America Are Even Better
1. No airlines based in Latin America have experienced more than 10 fatal crashes since 1970.
2. Cubana and TAM both lead the way with 8 total crashes. All other airlines except for VASP have fewer than 5 total crashes involving a fatality.
3. Three airlines based in Latin America don’t have any events on record occurring to their flights. An additional four airlines only have 1 recorded event in over 40 years.
4. Flying on an airliner is the safest method of flight per million flight hours, as commuter airlines carry a 3x greater risk of a fatality and general aviation has a 6x greater risk of a fatality.
5. The odds of being killed in a single airline flight on one of the world’s 78 major airlines is 1 in 4.7 million.
6. By flying in one of the Top 39 airlines with the best accident rates, the odds of being killed on a single airline flight is 1 in 19.8 million.
7. Even when in an airline crash that involves more than 10 fatalities, the survival rate is traditionally above 25%.
Takeaway: Although flying in the United States is seen as a safe way to travel, it appears to be even safer to fly internationally when a global perspective is taken. Although there may be fewer flights involved in Latin America when compared to the US or the rest of the world and the flights that do exist are of shorter duration that would seem to increase the risk because there is a direct correlation in higher risks with smaller aircraft. That’s also something to keep in mind for the next time you fly. Commuter aircraft might seem like a good idea… but there are higher risks involved by flying that way to your next destination.
Does Flying In Europe Have Higher Risks?
1. The primary airline that served the former Soviet Union still has the highest accident rates in the world, nearly doubling the accident rates of Chinese airlines other than Air China with 31 total accidents.
2. Turkish airlines has had 10 event occur and Air France has had 8 incidents, both of which would lead the accident rates of airlines in other portions of the world.
3. There are 7 airlines based in Europe, however, that have never had an accident. Another 4 airlines have only had 1 incident in the last 40 years or during the time providing commercial air flights.
5. Sabena airlines has successfully completed 1.6 million flights without a single airplane accident recorded, while Finnair has completed 1.7 million flights with the same record.
6. Air France’s record of safety is slightly skewed because of the safety record of the Concorde, a supersonic commercial jet, even though only 1 crash ever took place in its 27 years of operation.
7. The most common reason for fatal accidents for airplanes is because of pilot error, whether that is because of weather, mechanical issues, or general mistakes by the flight crew.
8. Outside of pilot error, the most common reason for an airplane to crash is a mechanical error. Weather related issues follow in third, followed by sabotage/terrorism in fourth.
Takeaway: Is flying in Europe really that much more dangerous? What the pattern seems to be is that the airlines that have the highest accident records tend to be the airlines that fly the most while having the least amount of maintenance performed on the aircraft. With millions of flights on the books and several airlines never having an accident, however, it could be said that flying in Europe could be the safest place to be since you have more accident-free options from which to choose. The added benefit of flying in Europe is that there are a number of truly unique locations that can be accessed with public transportation, which further decreases the risks involved.
Flying In Asia Could Be Hazardous To Your Health
1. With 20 total crashes on record, but only 2 incidents involving Air China, PRC companies lead the way in total flights and total events.
2. For per capita crashes, however, China Airlines based out of Taiwan has the worst flight record in the world, having 10 fatal incidents in less than 1 million flights.
3. Indian Airlines has registered 12 incidents as well, enough to lead every region except North America if the former Soviet Union is excluded from the statistics.
4. Philippine Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia Airways also have 8-9 crashes per organization.
5. Only two airlines in this region have no registered incidents: Qantas and EVA Air. Although the flight data for EVA is unknown, Qantas has logged over 1 million successful flights.
6. There are four airlines in this region that have just 1 incident on their records, including All Nippon Airways which has just 1 incident in 4.6 million total flights.
Takeaway: Although Asia seems to be the most dangerous region in which to fly, it all depends on what airlines you decide to take. Flying in China, India, or Taiwan seems to carry with it the greatest risks in the world today, while Australian flights seem to be some of the safest in the world. Otherwise the track record of the remaining major airlines is on track with the performance of other carriers in the other regions of the world. This means that with only a few exceptions, no matter where you are, you’ve got a good chance to fly safely to your next destination. That’s something that is quite comforting to take with you the next time you have a rough takeoff or landing, right?
Are Certain Airplanes More At Risk Of Crashing?
1. For large commercial aircraft that are used consistently today, the Airbus A310 has the highest crash rating of all, with 9 crashes in 4.6 million flights.
2. The Boeing 747 holds the second highest crash rate per capita, with 26 crashes in 13 million total flights.
3. The Boeing 737 has registered the most crashes out of the all, however, with 73 total crashes to its record, although it is also the most popular plane in the air with over 175 million flights logged.
4. The Airbus A340 is considered the safest plane to fly on right now as this model has never suffered a fatal crash as of yet.
5. The Boeing 747-400, Airbus A320, and current generation of Boeing 737s all round out the top 4 safest planes on which to fly right now.
6. Even though the Concorde only had 1 registered crash in 27 years, because less than 30 models were ever produced, it actually has the highest crash rating of all makes and models of major commercial aircraft.
Takeaway: Want to know what kind of airplane you’re flying on with your upcoming ticketed flight? You can ask about the type of aircraft and request a flight change if you’re on a plane that has a poor track record of safety. This may bring about flight change fees, but what’s $150 or so when it comes to choosing between a make and model of aircraft that has never crashed before or one that has one of the highest crash rates in all of history? When you take this make and model information and then correlate it with the regional data, it is also easier to make decisions about safe flights too. For example, flying an Airbus A310 out of Taiwan? Maybe not the best of ideas, even if the odds are pretty low that one single flight can kill you.
Would Safety Results Be Different Without Terrorism?
1. The events of September 11, 2001, are by far the highest amount of casualties that have been caused by terrorist incidents.
2. Between 1983-2008, there were only 3 years where at least one incident of terrorism didn’t occur on a commercial aircraft.
3. Outside of 2001, the greatest number of fatalities that have occurred in a single year because of terrorism is just over 600. Several years register no onboard fatalities because of terrorism.
4. Although scheduled passenger flights are typically the most likely to be taken over by terrorists, they are the least likely to be involved in any sort of accident.
5. With 46.3 million flight hours recorded in 2008 alone, the statistics show that failure rates must occur on an annual basis at some point.
6. The average flight time has increased nearly every year since 1979, going from 1.5 hours per flight to over 2 hours per flight, thereby increasing the risks of events.
Takeaway: Terrorism might strike fear into people, but the reality is that terrorists barely cause a dent in what happens on an airplane. You’re actually more likely to die from a brain-eating amoeba that you ingested while swimming in a lake then you are to be on a flight that is hijacked or controlled by a terrorist. Although worldwide media events sometimes make it seem like these events are happening more often, the data suggests that accident rates are in-line with traditional averages that have been in place for nearly 40 years. The only difference is that people are flying more, which means there are more chances to for something bad to happen. With double the amount of flight time in a year with less than double the accident rate, it actually means there are fewer per capita crashes happening – even if there is a greater overall number of events that are recorded.
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