Only 4% Survive Fatal US Plane Accidents

Of such accidents between Jan. 1, 2000, and July 10, 2013
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2013 3:30 PM CDT
Only 4% Survive Fatal US Plane Accidents
The wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, July 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)

Plane crashes may be on the decline, but your chance of surviving a fatal accident isn't much better than it was in the 1970s, according to a USA Today analysis of Aviation Safety Network data. What its number-crunching found:

  • It looked at fatal accidents worldwide from Jan. 1, 1970 through July 10, 2013, among planes with at least a dozen seats. How many flights fit the bill? Some 1,268, with 46,954 victims.
  • The number is dropping: In the '70s there were 394 fatal accidents; from 2000 through the end of the data, there were 269.

  • The deadliest flight phase is the approach; 40% of the accidents reviewed happened then. In the '70s, the survival rate was 18% ... the same as it was from 2000 through July 10, 2013.
  • The second-deadliest phase is "en-route" (after initial climb, before initial approach). The survival rates there were 11% in the 1970s, and 7% in 2000-2009.
  • But in all phases other than landing, the percentages for the aforementioned dates are 22% and 15%, respectively.
  • The bottom-line number for US passengers: 4% survived fatal accidents from Jan. 1, 2000, through July 10, 2013.
One aerospace safety expert isn't surprised by the low numbers, as the crashes were typically "so extreme" they "were not survivable." A weak point to the study, according to one expert: the omission of plane accidents where everyone survived, like this one. (Read more airplane accident stories.)

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