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31 July 2009

Newly Published Boeing Resource on Airline Accidents

The primary mission of is to provide airline passengers and aviation professionals with reliable information about plane crashes and other issues or events related to aviation safety and aviation security. and the Foundation can't do this alone. They both rely on publicly available information for news events like recent crashes and for reliable data for determining things like fatal event rates for aircraft models.

Some data, like plane crashes and accident investigation reports, are very easy to find, often widely publicized, and sometimes published by authoritative sources like government agencies. Other data, for example the number of airplane flights for a particular model, are much harder to find. One of the best sources for information about accident rates for specific airline models is an annual publication from Boeing, the Statistical Summary of Commercial Airplane Accidents. The newest edition, covering 2008, was published in July 2009, and it provides a summary of last year's accidents as well as comparative data on the accident rates of various aircraft models.

Some of the key data from this publication is included within, especially the Fatal Events by Aircraft Model page. Boeing's Statistical Summary is one of the industry publications that has very high quality data, and should be consulted by anyone who has an interest in airline safety, especially to answer specific questions about airliner accident rates and how they have changed over the last several decades.

You can download the most recent edition which covers 2008, and the previous one covering 2007 below. If you have an interest in how data like this is used to answer complex aviation risk and safety questions, you can also download two resources from selected portions of the book Understanding Aviation Safety Data from founder Dr. Todd Curtis, or you can register for the free online class on how to systematically ask and answer an aviation safety question.

2008 Statistical Summary
2007 Statistical Summary
Online Class: How to Ask an Aviation Safety Question
Chapter 6 of Understanding Aviation Safety Data

28 July 2009

16 Killed in Latest Iranian Plane Crash

24 July 2009; Aria Air Ilyushin 62M, Flight 1525; Mashhad, Iran: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Tehran, Iran to Mashhad, Iran. After landing, there was a tire burst and the aircraft skidded on the runaway, hitting an airport fence and an electricity pylon.

The normal landing speed for an Ilyushin 62 would have been between 145 and 165 mph, but this accident aircraft reportedly landed at a speed of 197 mph. The airplane ran off the runway and collided with a wall located about a kilometer from the runway.

The front section of the aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash, and there were 16 fatalities among the 153 passengers and 13 crew members.

This is the first fatal crash for Aria Air, and the 12th fatal passenger crash for the Ilyushin 62 since it began passenger service in the 1960s. This crash comes less than ten days after the last fatal plane crash in Iran. All 168 passengers and crew on that Caspian Airlines flight were killed.

Shortly after the accident, the airline's flight certification license was revoked by the Iranian civil aviation authorities.

Fatal Events for Airlines from Africa and the Middle East
Aria Air Plane Crash Wikipedia page

15 July 2009

Caspian Airlines Crash Kills All On Board

15 July 2009; Caspian Airlines Tu154M, Flight 7908; near Jannatabad, Iran: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Tehran, Iran to Yerevan, Armenia, and crashed near a village in the Qazvin region of Iran about 16 minutes after takeoff.

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash, and all 153 passengers and 15 crew members were killed. Among the victims were members of Iran's youth judo team, including eight athletes and two coaches.

This is the first fatal crash for Caspian Airlines, and the 19th fatal passenger crash involving the Tu154 since 1990. The most recent fatal Tu154 crash was an Iran Air Tours crash in September 2006. The Caspian Airlines crash represents the fourth fatal Tu154 airliner crash involving an Iranian airline. the previous three were all with Iran Air Tours.

Fatal Events for Airlines from Africa and the Middle East
Caspian Airlines Plane Crash Wikipedia page

09 July 2009

Air France Flight 447 - the BBC Interviews

After more than a month, most of the wreckage and many of the victims of Air France Flight 447 remain lost at sea. The public's and the media's attention remain focused on the the causes of the crash and on the recovery of the black boxes.

This podcast features two interviews with Vincent Dowd from the BBC World Service. In the first interview on June 12th, 2009, we discussed several issues, including differences in flight control philosophy between Airbus and Boeing, and how aircraft manufacturers respond when one of their airplanes crash.

In the second interview, recorded on June 23rd 2009, we discussed the progress of the accident investigation. We also talked about how the circumstances of this accident showed how it may be possible to use advanced technologies to supplement or even replace the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

Please listen to the interviews, and feel free to send your comments or questions to

Listen to the Interviews (18:38)
Additional Accident Information
Other Air France Plane Crashes
Other Airbus A330 Plane Crashes
Earlier Audio and Video Podcasts About the Accident

06 July 2009

On Plane Crashes, Michael Jackson, and Things Happening in Threes

Michael Jackson's unexpected death generated massive amounts of international media attention about Michael Jackson. Coincidentally, actress Farrah Fawcett died earlier the same day, and both died only a couple of days after long time television personality Ed McMahon. The following ten days after Michael Jackson's death saw the deaths of infomercial pitchman Billy Mays, Oscar winning actor Karl Malden, and former Super Bowl quarterback Steve McNair.

This two week period of celebrity deaths raised the question in the minds of some that these kind of bad things "happen in threes" and having six of these in a row must be a highly unusual event. News readers may recall that in February 2009 I looked at the question of "things happening in threes" when it comes to plane crashes, and found out that for 12 of the 13 years that has tracked fatal and significant plane crashes, there was at least one period where three or more events occurred with less than ten days separating each of them. There were seventeen sequences of these closely spaced sequences of crashes. Three were sequences of five events, three sequences had four events, and the other eleven consisted of three events each. In the first half of 2009, there have been a number of spectacular crashes, but no sequences of three or more separated by ten or fewer days.

The risk of plane crashes can't be treated like the risk of celebrity deaths, so it would not be fair to use the same criteria. For example, there isn't a universal definition of "celebrity," and some celebrities may have only national or regional audience. Also there are many people who may be famous, and much more widely known than most of the six recently deceased entertainment and sports figures mentioned above, but who are not celebrities. For example, former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara died on July 6th. He had been a well-known, and at times famous, figure in US political and business circles for nearly five decades, but he was no celebrity.

Back to Micheal Jackson and plane crashes. Earlier this year, I wrote that plane crashes "happen in threes" if a crash is listed as a fatal or significant event on and if there were no more than ten days separating each event in a series of three or more events. There was no scientific reason for picking ten days for airplanes, so with just as much justification, I'll pick seven days for American sports and entertainment celebrities. Over the past two weeks, there have been six events separated by less than seven days. Is this a situation like with airplanes, where this sort of thing happen almost every year? I'll leave that research to the entertainment media. will stick to flying machines.

Recent Celebrity Deaths

23 June 2009 - Ed McMahon
25 June 2009 - Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson
28 June 2009 - Billy Mays
1 July 2009 - Karl Malden
4 July 2009 - Steve McNair

Plane Crashes Involving Celebrities