Planes can be a little intimidating. There are plenty of shows and movies about plane crashes, as well as news reports about missing and crashing planes that make it seem like even major airlines experience dozens of crashes or complications a year.
But what is the truth? How often do planes crash for real? Is it as often as the news and media make it seem, or are the numbers a lot lower? Continue reading the article below to find out the truth and what to expect for your next plane ride.
How Often Do Planes Crash?
Unlike car crashes, pretty much every plane crash involves quite a few deaths. In serious incidents, you are looking at about 55 percent of passengers surviving. However, for most crashes, the totals are closer to 95 percent.
This may come as a shock to many people. Most of the time, when the news reports major plane crashes, they report the extremely disastrous ones, where most if not all the passengers don’t survive. While these instances occur, they aren’t as likely as they may seem.
To put it in a different perspective, some studies have shown that your chances of dying in a car crash are one in 5,000 while dying by plane is closer to one in 11 million.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry too much about how often planes crash. If you just look at the overall data, the numbers are kind of skewed. On average, there are about five plane crashes a year. Some people say this is conservative and it is more likely around 70 to 90 crashes a year.
As for the reason these numbers are skewed, this is because these numbers are taking into account not only commercial planes but small, personal planes as well. About 80 percent of all plane crashes are from small personal planes or non-standard airlines.
Small planes are more likely to crash for a few reasons. Like cars, there can be something wrong with the mechanics. Since personal planes don’t have mechanics and engineers to run a check after every flight, some of these problems can be overlooked pretty easily.
Additionally, there is more chance for human error with only one pilot and fewer automatic controls than with commercial planes. Weather conditions like high winds, storms, and hail can also affect small planes more than large planes.
When you look just at the major commercial airlines, the numbers considerably change. There is considered to be a one in 3.37 billion chance of dying in a commercial airline plane, instead of a one in 11 million. Most crashes only result in a 98.6 percent chance of not having any fatalities.
According to research, in a commercial flight, you have to ride about 294,000 planes in your lifetime before you would get in a crash, on average. This is a flight every day for over 500 years. Between 2015 and 2020, there were roughly 0.34 accidents per 100,000 flights on commercial planes.
Commuter air carriers are a little different, with closer to one accident per 100,000 departures. These are the smaller planes that have less than 60 seats.
At this moment, the most recent commercial plane crash was in 2021. This crash was for a cargo plane though, with no passengers. Both of the pilots managed to survive as well, so there were no fatalities.
All-in-all not only are you less likely to die in a plane accident than in a car accident, but you are far less likely to get into an accident in the first place.