Commercial Aviation - Box

Commercial Aviation - Box

Aviation Fatalities Resulting from Sabotage, Suicide, or Terrorism

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent government agency, tracks the number of U.S. aviation accidents and fatalities. NTSB includes all aviation fatalities resulting from illegal acts-sabotage, suicide, or terrorism-in its data. However, because these fatalities result from intentional acts of violence, rather than accidents, NTSB excludes them from its calculations of fatality rates.

According to NTSB statistics, illegal acts have resulted in 583 aviation fatalities since 1982 (the earliest year for which data are available) (see table below). However, although NTSB normally includes ground fatalities in its accounting of fatalities, the Board did not include the people killed on the ground as a result of the September 11 crashes.

An estimated 2,645 people were killed when two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City. A third plane hit the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside the building. A fourth plane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania and did not result in any ground fatalities.

U.S. Air Carrier Fatalities Involving Illegal Acts: 1982-2001

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Year Location Operator Aboard Ground Total
1982 Honolulu, HI Pan American 1 0 1
1986 Near Athens, Greece Trans World 4 0 4
1987 San Luis Obispo, CA Pacific Southwest 43 0 43
1988 Lockerbie, Scotland Pan American 259 11 270
1994 Memphis, TN Federal Express 0 0 0
2001 New York, NY American Airlines 92 - 92
2001 New York, NY United Airlines 65 - 65
2001 Arlington, VA American Airlines 64 - 64
2001 Shanksville, PA United Airlines 44 - 44
Total     572 11 583

NOTE: Fatalities of approximately 3,000 people not on board have been excluded for the Sept. 11, 2001, crashes.

SOURCE: National Transportation Safety Board, Aviation Accidents, Fatalities, and Rates: 1982-2001 (Washington, DC: 2002), table 12.