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Odds of Dying in a Plane Crash (Backed by Statistics)

Michele Meleen
airplane crash

Researchers have found the overall lifetime odds of dying in a plane crash is about one in 9,821. The probability of a plane crashing is low with an even lower number of fatal crashes.

Chances of Dying in a Plane Crash

Plane crashes have been declining over the past 20 years as safety features and technology have continued to improve.

  • The annual chance of dying in a plane crash for the average American is about one in 11 million.
  • Over the periods of 1982 to 1991 compared to 2002 to 2014, both the frequency and death toll due to plane crashes dropped by more than 67 percent.
  • Dutch aviation analysts at To70 reported the number of aircraft crash fatalities in 2019 were half of what they were in 2018.
  • In 2019, there were 86 large commercial airplane accidents and only 8 of those were fatal.

Odds of a Plane Having a Deadly Crash

A compilation of around 100 international airlines reveals in the past 20 years, each independent airline shows a total of less than three fatal crashes. In thinking about the number of flights that an airline will take each year, this number is incredibly low, especially noting that with each passing year, the number of flights tends to increase.

Airlines With the Highest Number of Deadly Crashes

Looking at this list of airlines, the following are the ones that had the highest total number of fatal crashes over the past 20 years:

  • American Airlines had a total of three fatal crashes from 16 million flights.
  • United Airlines had a total of two fatal crashes from over 12 million flights.
  • Air France KLM had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Egypt Air had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Iran Airtour had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Kenya Airways had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Lion Airways had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Pakistan International Airlines had a total of two fatal crashes.
  • Malaysia Airlines had a total of two fatal crashes.

Types of Planes With the Highest Odds of Crashing

One of the factors that can change the odds of dying in a plane crash is the type of airplane. You can look at air crash rates by plane type to see which are the most dangerous. To calculate this, you have to look at the total number of flights for each type of airplane and the number of fatal accidents they've had.

  • The Boeing 737 MAX has the highest fatality rate, but that amounts to only 2 fatal crashes out of 650,000 flights.
  • The Fokker F28 has the second highest fatality rate, with 21 fatal crashes out of 9.5 million flights.
  • The Airbus A310 has the third highest fatality rate, with 9 fatal crashes out of 4.7 million flights.

Odds of Dying Chart

Find out how much more likely are you to die in a car crash or from cancer than you are from dying in a plane crash. The National Safety Council (NSC) updates their odds of dying chart annually. The odds in this chart are from 2017 and 2018 because new data is not always available for every cause of death.

Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Air & Space Transport Incidents 1 in 9,821
Accidental Gun Discharge 1 in 9,077
Choking on Food 1 in 2,618
Drowning 1 in 1,121
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 106
Heart Disease 1 in 6

Tips for Reading Odds of Dying Chart

Odds can be defined as "the likelihood that something will happen." The odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 9,821. This means for every 9,821 people, only one will die in a plane crash.

  • You must assume the odds of dying from any possible cause are 1 in 1, meaning every person will die.
  • The first "1" represents the number of people in the group who will die.
  • The second number represents the total number of people in the group.

Understanding the Odds of Dying in a Plane Crash

Despite the number of plane crashes being low, and the number of fatal plane crashes being even lower, many people will continue to feel an intense flying phobia. Try to remember that your risk of dying from a plane crash is far lower than your risk of dying in an automobile accident or your risk of dying by choking on a piece of food. Your specific odds of dying in a plane crash will also be different from these averages when you factor in your air travel habits.

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Odds of Dying in a Plane Crash (Backed by Statistics)