U.S. Civil Aviation Fatalities Increase In 2018


The number of deaths related to U.S. civil aviation accidents increased to 393 in 2018 from 347 the previous year, according to preliminary statistics released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday. The board also reported a fatal accident rate in general aviation of 1.029 accidents per 100,000 flight hours for the year compared to 0.935 per 100,000 flight hours in 2017. Making up the majority of civil aviation deaths in the U.S., a total of 381 people were killed during general aviation operations in 2018.

“It is disappointing to see the fatal general aviation accident rate increase after two years with the rate below 1.0 per 100,000 flight hours,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Aviators in both the general aviation and Part 135 communities need to renew their emphasis on building and sustaining a safety culture, and recipients of our safety recommendations in this area need to implement those life-saving recommendations.”

The NTSB’s 2018 statistics show that deaths during Part 135 operations decreased from 16 in 2017 to 12 last year. The board also noted that 2018 included the nation’s first airline passenger fatality since 2009, which occurred when Southwest Flight 1380 suffered an uncontained engine failure. The preliminary statistics do not cover probable cause or potential reasons for the increase in fatalities.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.


  1. “The preliminary statistics do not cover probable cause or potential reasons for the increase in fatalities.”

    It may just mean that there just happened to be more people in each of the accident aircraft this year.
    No conclusion can be made.

    • That would be easy to calculate, though: the number of fatalities divided by the number of fatal accidents will give you a number that can be compared year to year.

      • FYI, in 2017, accidents involving fatalities totaled 197 compared to 217 in 2018, an increase of 10 percent.

        In deaths per accident, it was 1.76 in 2017 versus 1.81 in 2018. In other words, the accident aircraft were carrying more people on average. I don’t know if was driven by a small number of multiple fatality accidents or not. Haven’t reviewed the data yet.