Everyday 8 million Americans board an airplane, putting their lives in the hands of the professional pilots, mechanics, flight controllers, and rampers who all make safety a priority. Airplane travel is statistically one of the safest ways to travel, with the number of deaths per passenger mile on commercial airlines in the United States between 1995 and 2000 at 3 deaths per 10 billion passenger miles traveled. ( ). Compare that to the 41,945 road deaths in the US for the year 2000 (, and 425 fatalaties for train travel ( ) and airtravel starts to look really safe.

In this article we will explore all aircraft accidents recorded by the National Travel and Safety Board ( NTSB ) from 1962 up until the present. We will look at the number of persons injured through the lens of single variables like Purpose of Flight ( for example, Air Races, Firefighting purposes, Flight Tests, Personal use, Public use , Skydiving and more ), Type of Engine ( Reciprocating propeller, Turbo Jets,Turbo Fans ) and Make/Model. We will explore how two variables interact when we look at things like how Phase of Flight ( the time during the flight the accident happened, for example at Landing or Takeoff ) and Aircraft Category combine to affect Total Injured. And finally we will bring it all together in a summary and final presentation of 3 main plots.

This data looks at 79,141 flights as recorded by NTSB from 1962 onward. This dataset contains 31 variables, 5 of which we create in order to better look at the data. We will look strictly at the USA subset of data because it contains the most information.

Let’s take a look at summary of our data.

As you can see we have factors that you would expect to see, like Date, City, State and Country. We also have Lat/Long pairs we will use to plot our accidents and we will use those coordinates to group these accidents together by state.

There is quite a bit of information in this summary so let me highlight some of the more interesting pieces:

Some interesting things appear when we start to look at the means of injuries. Per crash we have the observe the following statistics:

Averages per crash

  • 1.67 total injuries
  • 1.45 minor injuries
  • 1.22 serious injuries
  • 0.33 fatal injuries
  • 6.33 uninjured

This gives an interesting factoid that if you were in an aircraft accident, according to this data, you have a 26% chance of being injured, and a 19% chance of being seriously injured.

Mapping Airline Crashes