Commercial scheduled air travel is among the safest modes of transportation; the 2021 lifetime odds of dying as an aircraft passenger in the United States were too small to calculate. The disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted commercial air travel in 2020. Miles flown by commercial scheduled airlines decreased 42% in 2020 compared to 2019. Miles flown in 2021 rebounded 35% from 2020 lows. Reflecting this increase in miles flown, preliminary estimates of the total number of accidents involving a U.S. registered civilian aircraft increased from 1,139 in 2020 to 1,225 in 2021. The number of civil aviation deaths increased from 349 in 2020 to 376 in 2021. All but 4 of the 376 deaths in 2021 were onboard fatalities. None of these deaths involved a commercial airline.
Use the interactive chart to explore aviation accident trends by U.S. air carrier category. Major airlines (scheduled service) experienced no onboard fatalities and had a fatal accident rate of 0.0 per 100,000 flight hours in 2021. This contrasts sharply with general aviation, which experienced 341 onboard fatalities and had a fatal accident rate of 0.951 per 100,000 flight hours.
- Data Table