Some 393 people were killed in civil aviation accidents in the United States in 2018, up 13 percent from the 347 killed the previous year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Among the 393 fatalities was the first airline passenger fatality since 2009 — a passenger on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 who was killed April 17, 2018, in an accident involving an uncontained engine failure. The passenger was partially ejected from the airplane after engine debris damaged a window and caused the rapid depressurization of the 737.
Data showed that 381 people (or 97 percent of all fatalities) were killed in general aviation operations in 2018, compared with 331 people in 2017. The NTSB calculated the fatal accident rate in general aviation as 1.029 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, compared with a rate of 0.935 in 2017.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said it was “disappointing to see the fatal general aviation accident rate increase after two years with the rate below 1.0 per 100,000 flight hours.”
Data also showed 12 fatalities in 2018 involving on-demand aircraft operating under U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135, down from 16 fatalities in 2017.
“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,” Sumwalt said. The NTSB noted that, although the fatal accident rate decreased in 2018 for Part 135 operations, the board has investigated some Part 135 accidents in recent years that involved “glaring safety deficiencies.”
The data do not include possible reasons for the year-to-year increase in fatalities.
The NTSB has included issues affecting both sectors on either the current version of its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements or on earlier versions of the list.