Arrow-right Camera


Last Year’s Airplane Death Toll Worst Since 1985

Sat., Feb. 22, 1997

The TWA and ValuJet crashes made last year the deadliest for U.S. air carriers since 1985, with 380 deaths in five accidents.

In all, 350 people were killed aboard the planes and 30 died on the ground, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday in its annual aviation statistical report.

The deaths were the most since 526 people died in seven fatal accidents in 1985. The last year with five or more deadly crashes was 1990 when six accidents occurred, but the death toll was only 39.

The 1996 toll amounted to one passenger death per 1.8 million who flew, the board reported, up from one death in 3.7 million passengers in 1995 but still below the one death in 1.4 million recorded in 1982.

In addition to the large air carriers, the safety board reported that accidents involving private pilots fell to a 15-year low. The year also saw the lowest fatal accident rate in 15 years of recordkeeping for commuter airlines, but the highest for air taxis.

Overall, 1,070 people died in aviation accidents last year, up from 962 in 1995.

The explosion of TWA Flight 800 last July 17 off the coast of Long Island was the year’s deadliest disaster, killing 230 people. There were 110 killed in the May 11 crash of a ValuJet DC-9 in the Florida Everglades.

Click here to comment on this story »