If you’re planning a trip soon, you will likely have several options of airlines to travel with, especially in the United States. You may want to know which airlines have the best safety records and which you should avoid. However, the results of this search might shock you.
The airlines with the most crashes are American Airlines and Air France, with 11 significant incidents each. China Airlines and Korean Air follow closely behind, with nine incidents each. However, this doesn’t necessarily make them the most dangerous as ratios go.
Here is a list of the eight airlines with the most crashes as of 2022. And I know; thinking about crash statistics like that is enough to make anyone think twice about flying.
However, it’s important to remember that this list purely reflects the number of major incidents on commercial flights and does not reflect the airline’s safety.
8 Airlines With the Most Crashes
These numbers indicate incidents where a significant loss of life has occurred, and the plane was severely damaged. Minor incidents – such as failed takeoffs or overshot runways – are not included, as hundreds of these happen every year.
These statistics don’t account for the length of time the airline has been operating or the volume of journeys it executes yearly. It is purely a representation of its significant incidents.
These airlines have suffered the most severe crashes on commercial flights. These numbers indicate incidents where a significant loss of life has occurred and the plane was severely damaged.
Minor incidents – such as failed takeoffs or overshot runways – are not included, as hundreds of these happen yearly.
These statistics are purely representative of an airline’s significant incidents. They don’t account for the length of time the airline has been operating or the volume of journeys it executes yearly. Nor does it indicate the airline’s presumed safety. In fact, some of these airlines are ranked among the safest for traveling.
How is that possible, you wonder? Simple.
Imagine Airline A has handled 10 million flights. Of those, let’s pretend there were 11 crashes. That sounds like a lot, especially since Airline B has only ever had a single crash.
Airline B, however, has only handled 300 total flights. One crash for them is much more significant than the 11 out of 10 million for Airline A. Keep that in mind as you continue reading this list.
1. American Airlines – 11 Crashes
American Airlines has been in operation for a long time with a fleet of 931 aircraft, so the fact that they have only experienced 11 significant incidents in their 86 years of flying is quite impressive.
This airline is most famous for the hijacking that took place on September 11th, 2001, which led to the destruction of the World Trade Center. This incident accounts for two of these crashes.
Overall, American Airlines has an incredible safety record; you should feel safe flying with them.
2. Air France – 11 Crashes
Air France is one of the most famous European airlines to this day, so you may be surprised to learn that it has this many crashes. The most notable of these crashes occurred in 2009 when Air France 447 crashed over the Atlantic Ocean.
The incident was the deadliest for the airline and the aircraft involved. Since a pilot error was partially responsible for the crash (as well as weather conditions), the company implemented stricter training protocols, and Air France hasn’t suffered a severe incident since.
3. China Airlines – 9 Crashes
China Airlines provides for the most populous country in the world, so it is no wonder that it has had its fair share of significant incidents. The most severe recent crash was China Airlines Flight 611.
A routine flight from Taiwan to China saw the Boeing 747 crash into the Taiwan Strait, killing everyone on board. The impact resulted from improper maintenance that had missed the metal deterioration in a crucial mechanism. China Airlines disputes the claims that it was at fault, and there haven’t been any incidents of this scale since.
4. Korean Air – 9 Crashes
Korean Air lacks the safety claims that many of these other airlines have. The airline has been operating at a much smaller capacity and for far less time than the other airlines on this list. From its creation, Korean Air suffered a string of terrible incidents rendering it one of the most dangerous airlines on the planet.
However, the last time they had a fatal crash was in 1999. Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 suffered a crash that killed the crew, and the company turned its safety standards around. They now have one of the best safety records in the world.
5. Pakistan International Airlines – 8 Crashes
Pakistan International Airlines has an appalling safety record. It currently boasts a fleet of just 30 planes, while it has lost just as many to crashes and other incidents.
The airline suffered a fatal crash as recently as 2020, when Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 suffered a malfunction and crashed, killing 97 of those on board and one onlooker. The airline’s poor safety record can be attributed both to the quality of the airline and the tumultuous nature of the routes it took during wartime.
6. United Airlines – 7 Crashes
United Airlines hasn’t had the smoothest of rides, but given the volume of flights it provides, these incidents don’t scratch the surface. The deadliest of these incidents was the United Airlines Flight 232.
This plane suffered a catastrophic failure, and 112 people died. Despite this, it is often deemed a testament to the aircrew, who managed to save the lives of the other 184 people on the plane. It is primarily considered to be one of the best-handled incidents in aviation history, so you’re in safe hands.
7. EgyptAir – 6 Crashes
Despite its low position on this list, EgyptAir has had a string of aviation incidents that directly resulted from the company or its aircrew. Most recently, 66 people died after a cockpit fire on EgyptAir Flight 804 caused the plane to go down.
The cause of the fire was determined to be a combination of smoke from the pilot’s cigarette and a faulty plane that shouldn’t have been in the air. This airline might be one to give a miss if you’re flying internationally.
8. Ethiopian Airlines – 6 Crashes
Ethiopian Airlines is a relatively small airline that doesn’t have a strong reputation for safety. Their most notable incident was in 2010, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashed near Beirut, killing everyone on board. The crash has been the topic of many debates.
Investigators found the airline and crew at fault for erratic behavior, while Ethiopian Airlines refutes this. Some onlookers describe what they thought to be an explosion as the plane went down, but no such evidence was found on the aircraft following the incident. It is unlikely that we will ever know what truly happened.