“If you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.”
These are the words of Arnold Barnett, who has calculated the chances of a plane crashing, and is an expert in the field of aviation safety and risk and Professor of Statistics at MIT.
It’s definitely reassuring to hear that the chances of being involved in a fatal plane crash are exceptionally low. Some more good news is that flying keeps on getting safer and safer.
In fact, it has currently never been safer to fly on commercial airlines when we consider that airline passenger fatalities have fallen significantly compared to the previous decade.
But how do the chances of a plane crashing compare to being involved in a car crash, how likely are you to survive a plane crash, should you be scared of turbulence?
These are just some of the questions passengers want answered.
In this article, we also take a closer look at some important statistics concerning plane crashes and fatalities, as well as what the numbers say about whether the type of aircraft and airline you fly with makes a difference to the odds of crashing.
Chances of a Plane Crash vs. Car Crash
According to the NSC (National Safety Council), the odds of dying in a car crash as a driver are 1 in 114, and 1 in 654 as a passenger.
The odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 9,821, though this accounts for both general aviation, that includes small planes, and commercial aviation.
If you are reading this article, you are probably more interested in the chances of a plane crashing on your next commercial flight, though.
So let’s take a look a closer look at the statistics for plane crashes by year, aircraft, country, and airline.
Chances of a Plane Crashing – The Statistics
The following statistics only include crashes of airliners – i.e. aircraft used for commercial travel. We have limited the data from 2010 to 2021.
Plane Crashes by Year
Despite the total number of passengers having increased from 2.7 billion in 2010 to 4.5 billion in 2019, you can see that the number of plane crashes a year has largely remained steady or even decreased.
In other words, the chances of a plane crashing is the lowest it has ever been in the history of commercial aviation.
Here are the statistics for how often planes crash over the last decade:
- 2021: 5 accidents
- 2020: 10 accidents
- 2019: 14 accidents
- 2018: 18 accidents
- 2017: 5 accidents
- 2016: 11 accidents
- 2015: 17 accidents
- 2014: 14 accidents
- 2013: 16 accidents
- 2012: 14 accidents
- 2011: 17 accidents
- 2010: 17 accidents
Plane Crash Deaths by Year
Again, considering the total number of passengers has almost doubled in the previous decade, the following statistics show a reassuring trend.
- 2021: 74 fatalities
- 2020: 303 fatalities
- 2019: 214 fatalities
- 2018: 422 fatalities
- 2017: 12 fatalities
- 2016: 249 fatalities
- 2015: 471 fatalities
- 2014: 863 fatalities
- 2013: 188 fatalities
- 2012: 389 fatalities
- 2011: 145 fatalities
- 2010: 647 fatalities
Plane Crashes by Aircraft
If you’re wondering which aircraft model is the most likely to crash, then you might be interested in the following data.
However, keep in mind that some aircraft, such as the Boeing 737, are hugely popular and widely used in commercial aviation, so the statistics do not necessarily indicate that one aircraft is more dangerous to fly on than the other.
All aircraft, regardless of model and variant, are built to exceptionally high safety standards.
- Airbus A300: 33 accidents
- Airbus 310: 8 accidents
- Airbus A319: 1 accident
- Airbus A320: 28 accidents
- Airbus A321: 7 accidents
- Airbus A330: 9 accidents
- Airbus A340: 5 accidents
- Boeing 737: 149 accidents
- Boeing 737 NG / Max: 27 accidents
- Boeing 747: 49 accidents
- Boeing 757: 9 accidents
- Boeing 767: 15 accidents
- Boeing 777: 7 accidents
- Canadair Regional Jet: 13 accidents
- Dash 8: 9 accidents
- Embraer 120 Brasilia: 7 accidents
- Embraer 135/145: 5 accidents
- Embraer 190/195: 4 accidents
- Fokker 70/100: 8 accidents
- Fokker 50: 6 accidents
Plane Crashes by Country
*Only countries that have had5 or more plane accidents have been included.
- Argentina: 7 accidents
- Brazil: 18 accidents
- Canada: 12 accidents
- China: 15 accidents
- Colombia: 8 accidents
- Egypt: 5 accidents
- France: 15 accidents
- Germany: 6 accidents
- India: 21 accidents
- Indonesia: 21 accidents
- Iran: 7 accidents
- Iraq: 5 accidents
- Italy: 8 accidents
- Japan: 8 accidents
- Libya: 10 accidents
- Malaysia: 6 accidents
- Nigeria: 9 accidents
- Pakistan: 7 accidents
- Peru: 7 accidents
- Philippines: 5 accidents
- Russia: 10 accidents
- Somalia: 5 accidents
- South Korea: 7 accidents
- Spain: 8 accidents
- Taiwan: 13 accidents
- Thailand: 9 accidents
- Turkey: 12 accidents
- UAE: 7 accidents
- USA: 76 accidents
Plane Crashes by Airline
Unlike some of the other statistics on this page whereby the more popular the airliner the more likely the odds of it crashing, this isn’t the case with airlines.
In other words, there is not necessarily a correlation between how popular an airline is and how often one of its planes has crashed, though some airlines are more dangerous than others.
For example, despite their popularity, British Airways has only ever been involved in one plane crash.
If you live in the USA, you can see that some of the most popular airlines feature on this list, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines while others including Delta, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines do not.
*Only airlines that have had 4 or more plane accidents have been included.
- Air France: 11 accidents
- American Airlines: 11 airlines
- American Eagle: 5 accidents
- Asiana Airlines: 4 accidents
- China Airlines: 9 accidents
- Continental Airlines: 5 accidents
- Egyptair: 6 accidents
- Ethiopian Airlines: 6 accidents
- Garuda: 4 accidents
- Indian Airlines: 10 accidents
- Iran Air: 4 accidents
- Korean Air: 9 accidents
- Kuwait Airways: 4 accidents
- Libyan Arab Airlines: 4 accidents
- Lufthansa: 5 accidents
- Pakistan International Airlines: 8 accidents
- Pan Am: 4 accidents
- Southwest Airlines: 3 accidents
- Thai Airways: 6 accidents
- United Airlines: 7 airlines
- VASP: 6 accidents
How Likely Are You to Survive a Plane Crash?
While there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut answer, as it depends on the circumstances of the crash, the US National Transportation Safety Board reviewed aviation accidents from 1983-1999 and found that more than 95% of passengers survived accidents, including 55% in the most serious incidents.
Therefore, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a plane crash, take comfort in knowing that you are much more likely to survive a plane crash than not.
What Are the Chances of a Plane Crashing From Turbulence?
Turbulence will very rarely cause modern airplanes to crash.
This is because most turbulence is well within what aircraft are designed to fly through; modern airplanes are designed to withstand 1.5 times any forces on airframes.
Even when turbulence gets severe, the risk of a plane crash is still very, very low because pilots will slow the aircraft to the appropriate “maneuvering speed” for the aircraft’s current weight.
How to Increase Your Chances of Surviving a Plane Crash?
There is nothing you can do to substantially increase your odds of surviving a plane crash, though sitting in one of the back rows, wearing your seatbelt, and not wearing flammable clothes may all marginally help.
Is Dying in a Plane Crash Painful?
Whether dying in a plane crash is painful or not mainly depends on the plane’s size, its speed on impact, and whether the plane crashed on land or sea.
In a high-impact crash or when a plane breaks up in the sky, the death is usually very quick and painless.
If a plane crashes, the passengers onboard are still conscious, and circumstances show very little chance of survival, the death could be terrifying.
But in most “controlled crashes” whereby a pilot has control, odds show that there may not even be any fatalities.