U.S. Aviation Fatalities Declined In 2020, NTSB Says

Accident investigators examine the scene of an S-76B helicopter crash that killed nine people in January 2020.
Credit: NTSB

Fatalities caused by civil aviation accidents in the U.S. declined in 2020 alongside a lapse in flight activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NTSB said Nov. 17.

There were 332 fatalities that resulted from general aviation (GA) accidents, down from 414 in 2019. The 2020 fatal accident rate for GA was 1.049 accidents per 100,000 flight hours; the 2019 rate was 1.069, the safety board said.

Accidents involving Part 135 on-demand operations, including charter flights, air taxis, air tours and aeromedical services, claimed 21 lives in 2020, down from 32 in 2019. The board categorized five deaths as resulting from Part 135 commuter accidents.

After two consecutive years with airline passenger fatalities, there were no fatal accidents involving Part 121 airlines in 2020. There have been no airline passenger fatalities in seven of the last 10 years, the NTSB said.

GA flight activity in 2020 decreased by 11% to 19.5 million flight hours and Part 135 on-demand operations decreased 19% to 3 million flight hours, the board said, referencing data compiled by the FAA from its GA and Part 135 Activity Survey. 

Part 121 air carrier operations declined by 55% to 8.9 million flight hours from 19.8 million flight hours.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.