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How Common are Airplane Accidents

Everyone is scared of flying. Well, maybe not necessarily, but even the most frequent travellers will admit that once in a while the thought of plane crashes crosses their minds. But how common are aeroplane accidents really?

In today’s article, we are going to discuss what statistics say about plane accidents worldwide, and hopefully settle some nerves. We will also discuss common plane crash causes, safety tips, and more.

Image: A photo of a plane crash scene in a dessert with the plain tail sticking on the ground, and half of the plan body not in sight.

How Common are Plane Accidents?

Let’s get right into it.

One of the common reasons for flight anxiety is the thoughts of plane accidents. And this goes for both frequent travellers and those who consider air travel just once in a while. While we rarely hear about any plane crash news, the fact that when it happens it can be catastrophic is probably what brings about the concerns.

Statistically, the number of plane crashes recorded annually is generally exceptionally low. Unlike road accidents that are recorded on a daily, there are only a handful of plane accidents in a year.

For example, while air traffic increased by a whopping 20% in 2023, compared to 2022, adding up to 32 million flights, no fatal accidents in commercial aviation were recorded. In 2022 alone, for every 4.2 million flights, only 1 major accident was recorded.

If we continue to go back a little bit, you will realise that very few plane accidents happen. Take for example a five-year plane crash average, say 2018 to 2022, only 1 major accident was recorded for every 6.4 million flights.

As you can see, according to statistics, plane accidents aren't really something to worry about.

Common Causes of Airplane Accidents

Here are some factors that may lead to a plane crash;

Human error - Some aeroplane accidents happen because of human mistakes, such as pilot errors, miscommunication, or not following procedures.

Mechanical failure - Sometimes, parts of the plane can break or fail. Regular maintenance and thorough checks make sure these issues are rare and fixed quickly to avoid accidents.

Weather conditions - Bad weather is a common cause of plane accidents. Storms, ice, and turbulence can be dangerous. However, pilots are extensively trained to handle these conditions, and modern planes are built to withstand them.

Bird strikes - Birds can hit planes and damage engines or other parts. Airlines use various methods to keep birds away, like wildlife management and advanced radar systems.

Image: A photo of a plane flying close to the ground amidst heavy clouds.

How Airlines are Ensuring Airplane Safety

Airlines work hard to keep passengers and crew safe. They use technology, follow strict rules, and train their staff well. Here are some safety protocols to ensure maximum safety;

Regular Maintenance

Regular checkups include checking the engines, electrical systems, and structure. If they find a problem, they fix it right away. They also keep detailed records of all maintenance work to ensure everything is up to date and safe for flight.

Advanced Technology

Modern aeroplanes have high-tech systems to keep them safe. This includes;

Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) - These warn pilots about other planes nearby and suggest ways to avoid collisions.

Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS) - These alert pilots if they are too close to the ground.

Fly-by-Wire Systems - These electronic controls help reduce human error.

Pilot Training

Pilots train a lot to fly safely. Training starts when they first join and continue regularly after that. They also undergo simulator training, where they practice emergencies in simulators to ensure they are ready for when real situations happen.


Organizations like the FAA (in the US) and EASA (in Europe) set safety rules for airlines, and check to ensure that airlines follow these rules. In case of accidents, they thoroughly carry out investigations to find out the cause to help them improve safety.

Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Many airlines use SMS to manage safety. These include risk assessment for finding and fixing potential hazards, safety reporting, where staff can report safety issues without fear, and continuous improvements, regularly reviewing and improving safety practices.

Passenger and Crew Safety

Airlines have rules to keep everyone safe including;

Pre-flight safety briefings, where passengers are taught about seat belts, life vests, and oxygen masks.

Emergency procedures, where crew members are trained to evacuate the plane quickly in an emergency.

Health measures, which include airlines cleaning planes regularly and providing protective gear to passengers and crew.

Safety Tips for Passengers

While the likelihood of being involved in a plane crash is extremely low, passengers can take steps to enhance their safety and peace of mind;

Pay attention to safety briefings - Always listen to the pre-flight safety briefings and familiarise yourself with the aircraft's safety features.

Follow crew instructions - Adhere to the instructions given by the flight crew at all times, especially during emergencies.

Keep your seatbelt fastened - Wear your seatbelt whenever you are seated to protect yourself from unexpected turbulence.

Choose airlines with good safety records - Research and select airlines known for their strong safety records and maintenance practices.

Stay informed - Keep yourself updated on any travel advisories or airline-specific safety information before flying.

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