The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released figures on 2018’s civilian plane crash fatalities in the U.S. Unfortunately, 393 people died in civilian plane crashes in the U.S. last year, which was a 15% increase over the previous year.
The vast majority – all but about a dozen – of the fatalities occurred in “general aviation,” which typically means the crashes involved small, private planes rather than commercial airliners.
There was actually only one accident on a U.S. commercial airliner in 2018 that resulted in a fatality. It was the first fatality due to accident on a commercial plane in the U.S. since 2009. The incident occurred when an engine blew apart and broke the window next to a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight.
The other fatalities outside the “general aviation” arena included 12 people who were killed on tours, on charters, in air taxis or on medical flights. The NTSB did not break down the fatalities by cause.
The NTSB’s numbers do not include people killed on airliners abroad, such as in the two accidents involving the Boeing 737 Max. As we have discussed before on this blog, the 737 Max has been grounded after problems with the in-flight computer caused two crashes. The first occurred in 2018 – the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29 of last year. 189 passengers and crew were killed.
This year’s deaths on pace to exceed last year’s
In 2019 so far, 348 people have been killed in U.S. airplane crashes. That puts us at a slightly higher pace than in 2018, which itself represented a 15% increase over 2017.