Many people have a deeply ingrained fear of flying. No matter how they came to develop this phobia, what many of them share in common is a preoccupation with plane crashes, airplane safety, and the risk of death or injury.
However, the best weapon against fear is knowledge. With that in mind, we've compiled and analyzed airplane safety statistics that may help people who are nervous about getting on a flight.
Airline Industry Safety
Pilots, airplane technicians and flight traffic controllers are all highly educated and possess a large amount of specialist knowledge. Pilots face a rigorous training program in order to achieve nationally recognized certification. They must also earn thousands of flight hours before they can even begin flying commercial planes.
They must also go through regular training and re-certification throughout their careers. Essentially, every person who is involved with flying a plane is very, very good at their job. In addition, backup systems in every plane provide for safety during emergencies that would have been fatal just decades ago.
According to statistics provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are 40,000+ flights with 2.6 million passengers within the US alone, every day. The relatively very small number of major accidents a year is a testament to the airline industry’s dedication to safety. See our breakdown of courses for the fear of flying to learn more about airline safety.
Plane Crash Statistics
Notes: The figures above represent Part 121 Air Carriers, which are major airline operators who operate on scheduled flights and monitored airspace. Part 135 carriers, which include unscheduled private and medical aircraft flights, are not included. 2016 is the latest year of full crash statistics provided by the NTSB.
- There was a 1 in 3.37 billion chance of dying in a commercial airline plane crash between 2012-2016
- There was a 1 in 20 million chance of being on a commercial airline flight experiencing a fatal accident from 2012-2016
- 98.6% of crashes did not result in a fatality — Of the 140 plane accidents during 2012-2016, only two involved fatalities (1.4%)
“A person would have to fly on average once a day every day for 22,000 years before they would die in a U.S. commercial airplane accident according to recent accident rates.”
-Dr. Arnold Barnett, MIT
2017 Deaths By Transportation Mode
2017 transportation casualty figures show that individuals are far more likely to die on a highway, train or boat than in an airplane. Highway deaths, in fact, accounted for over 95% of all traffic deaths, while there were no deaths related to commercial airline flights. Pipelines (tracked by the NTSB as a transportation mode) transporting natural gas and hazardous liquids accounted for 20 deaths.
Traffic Casualties By Mode
- Highway: 37,133
- Rail (Trains): 761
- Marine (Boats & Other Water Craft): 694
- Commercial Airlines: 0
Aviophobia (Fear of Flying) Statistics
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans is either:
- Anxious about flying (18.1%)
- Afraid to fly (12.6%)
Of Those Afraid To Fly:
- 73% were fearful of mechanical problems during flight
- 62% were afraid of being on a flight during bad weather
- 36% were afraid of mechanical problems on the ground
- 36% were afraid about flying at night
- 33% feared flying over a body of water
Women are twice as likely as men to experience fear of flying.
Source: “Fear of Flying: Impact on the U.S. Air Travel Industry.” Robert D. Dean, Kerry M. Whitaker. Study sponsored by Boeing Commercial Airplane Company