On the average, 34 aviation accidents cause 773 fatalities each year; but 2012 saw the lowest number of fatalities since 1945: airliner accident statistics showed 475 fatalities and 36 ground fatalities in 23 fatal airliner accidents. When calculated by the number of passenger miles flown, travel by air is the safest form of transportation you can choose.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the airline industry, creating rules and setting standards for manufacturing, pilot activity, flight operations, and air traffic control.


Human Error: Pilot error is the most frequent cause of airplane accidents and is usually responsible for 53 percent of the total. Human error on the part of people other than the pilot can also happen, during maintenance, loading; or an accident could be wholly or partially the fault of an air traffic controller.

Mechanical Failure: Mechanical problems account for about 20 percent of all aviation accidents. Mechanical failure, an aging plane, structural or design problems, improper maintenance, equipment malfunction, or a problem with some component can result in a crash. Some accidents have been attributed to counterfeit parts.

Weather: Weather conditions can add to the danger of airline travel, but it is usually only one factor in a given accident, combining with pilot error, mechanical failure, or design flaw.

Terrorism, Hijacking, Sabotage: These external acts of violence have contributed to high-profile aviation fatalities, the most extreme being the events of 9/11, 2001. These incidents can sometimes be attributed to negligent airport security.


Usually, when an airplane crash occurs, there are several parties who may be liable. In matters of human error, lawyers will need to demonstrate negligence on the part of the owner, the owner’s employee, a company responsible for maintenance, or possibly a government agency or security contractor if the problem has arisen from negligent inspection or airport security. If a defect in design or manufacture caused the crash, strict liability holds the designer or manufacturer responsible without the necessity of proving negligence.

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