Less flying in 2020 meant fewer fatalities in civilian aviation, according to statistics published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Most aviation deaths in 2020 took place during general aviation operations, where 332 people were killed, compared to 414 the year before, according to the statistics, which were released Nov. 17, 2021.
The 2020 fatal accident rate in general aviation was 1.049 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, compared to 2019’s rate of 1.069.
After two consecutive years with airline passenger fatalities, there were no fatal accidents involving Part 121 air carriers in 2020. In seven of the last 10 years, there have been no airline passenger fatalities.
Accidents in On-Demand Part 135 operations, which include charters, air taxis, air tours, and medical services (when a patient is on board), claimed 21 lives in 2020, down from 32 in 2019.
Compared to 2019, flight activity in 2020 decreased across all segments of U.S. civil aviation:
- U.S. airline operations decreased by 55%, from about 19.8 to 8.9 million flight hours
- Part 135 commuter operations decreased by 46%, from about 417,000 to 225,000 flight hours
- Part 135 on-demand operations decreased by 19%, from about 3.8 to 3.0 million flight hours
- General aviation operations decreased by 11%, from about 21.8 to 19.5 million flight hours
The 2020 statistics include investigations that are still ongoing, so they do not detail potential reasons for the accidents and fatalities in U.S. aviation, NTSB officials noted.
The NTSB also publishes an Annual Summary of U.S. Civil Aviation Accidents that includes additional information from completed investigations. The NTSB will release the 2019 Annual Summary in December 2021.