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Here’s When a Plane Is Most Likely to Crash, According to Boeing

Here’s When a Plane Is Most Likely to Crash, According to Boeing
Jennifer Billock

If you’re paranoid about plane crashes or afraid of flying, this may help you or hurt you: Boeing has narrowed down data from thousands of flights to determine the exact times a plane is most likely and least likely to crash. And it’s probably not when you’d expect, either.

First off, don’t worry. Plane travel is very safe. There’s only a one in 11 million chance of getting into a plane crash. But if you are that unlucky percentage, pay close attention during takeoff and landing.

A new study released by Boeing shows that the about half of all fatal plane crashes occur during the final descent and landing. It’s only 4 percent of the total trip for most flights, but accounts for 48 percent of all crashes. The second highest accident probability is during take off and the initial ascent: 13 percent of fatal crashes happened during that time.

The study analyzed international flight data from commercial flights between 2007 and 2016 in order to compile these percentages. All in all, it found cruising time on the flight, which is the majority of a plane ride, to be the safest—only 11 percent of fatal accidents happened while the plane was flying at altitude.

Christine Negroni, author of The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasterstold The Sun several ways to avoid the unlikely event of a plane crash and stay safe if you’re in one: don’t fly cheap airlines, unless it’s the no-frills ones that charge for everything; pay attention to the safety announcements so you know what to do and can help others who may be panicking; stay awake until it’s safe to remove your seat belt; keep your shoes on so your feet aren’t damaged by anything you may run on during an evacuation; keep your seat belt on at all times; and leave the headphones off during takeoff and landing so you can hear important announcements.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (7)


  1. amanuensis


    February 8, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Uh, you said that I wouldn’t expect the finding. Wrong. Obviously the ascent and descent phases are the most risky. Birds, drones, lasers and of course congested air space.

  2. weero


    February 8, 2018 at 7:58 am

    So 48% for descent and landing and 13% for take off and climb … that leaves 39% for cruise … which is thrice the probability than for take-off, so take-off can’t be second …..

  3. JackE

    February 8, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Most likely to crash while airborne.

  4. 737fan1

    February 9, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I believe 100% of the crashes occur upon landing.

  5. NNH

    February 13, 2018 at 9:12 am

    My wife gets annoyed with me when I won’t let her take her shoes off till we’re safely in the air…

  6. KRSW

    February 20, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I concur with JackE and mostly with 737fan1. @737fan1: Not always — see SwissAir 111. Broke up mid-air.

    In seriousness, when we’re below 10,000 ft, I keep my passport, wallet, phone, on my person and my shoes on. Ms. KRSW does the same. Seat belt stays on (loosely) once we’re above 10,000ft.

  7. scottishpoet

    March 20, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Not really sure what is revealing about this

    back in the late 90s I was told it was +3 and -8 that you needed to worry most, the first 3 minutes and the last 8 minutes. This much more recent study basically seems to say the same thing

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