, , , , ,


1/2560000 in 2016  VS.  ?  in history

In the past 70 years, Airplane has been an important tool for people to travel long distances. According to IATA annual report In 2016, the major aviation accident rate was 0.39, which was equivalent to only one major accident happen in every 2.56 million flights. This seemingly safe number is built on countless blood and sweat. Step down and turn back a little bit, let’s count the successes and failures in the flying history.

Data source

Data volume

  • 5534


  1. Yearly how many planes crashed? any trend? how many people were on board? how many survived? how many died?
  2. How the distribution of accidents between military and passengers? any insights?
  3. The highest number of crashes by operator and type of aircraft. The relationship between operators and types of airplanes?
  4. Find the airline routes with most accidents and try to find the reasons.
  5. Find any interesting trends/behaviors that we encounter when we analyze the dataset.

History of airplane accidents

Count of accidents by Year


Form the picture, we can see the total accidents trend from low to high before the 1970s. After that, there are some small peaks around 1990 and 2010. But the overall trend after 1990 is gradually going down.

At the beginning of 20 centuries, 1903, Wright brothers invented plane. In 1909, French hold a big flight competition, which threatened the England and other European countries. Even there were many problems with the current planes, the military can’t wait for using it in war. The first time of airplanes’ appearing thus was in Italo-Turkish War. The power of airplane attracted other countries’ military, which leads a huge development in the military aviation industry. From 1914, the first world wartime, airplane mainly used for investigating, transporting, and some peripheral things. At the time of world war II, which is around 1940. Airplanes had widely used in battle. At the same time, World civil aviation organization (IATA) established in Havana, the capital of Cuba in 1945. In 1978, Cater, the president of the USA, signed meaningful a law in the history of American aviation legislation, which is <the airline deregulation act>. The establishment and merger of companies in the US domestic aviation industry, route selection, fare establishment, and even loss-making operations, are basically out of government control and intervention. The number of airplanes grows up fast with the high possibility of air crash occurred. The other reason we consider is that airplane technologies that at that time had weakness and need to improve. With the technologies completed, the amount of air crash will decrease. These situations are obvious after 2000.

Total accidents by Type of flight


The two charts show the amounts and ratio of passenger and military aircraft. It is obvious that accidents are more likely to occur on passenger aircraft and the number of that is five times as much as the number of militaries.

From the right chart, we can see the number of accidents of passenger aircraft was almost higher than that of military’s. But there was twice the number of militaries exceeded that of passenger: one was in the 1910s and the other was in 1940s. And these two times, happened to be the periods of the first and second world war respectively.

Besides, the count of Passenger aircraft’s accidents peaked at 1973 and then 1979, when the Middle East War and the Iranian revolution happened respectively, resulting in two oil crises. So the oil shortage may contribute to a large number of death toll in the two years.

The possibility of survived

Total number of people involved by Year


After 1945, World civil aviation organization (IATA) established. The civil aviation industry develops quickly. People were more willing to take airplanes than before. In this pictures, “the number of people involved” means the persons who experienced the air crash over years. We can see after 1945, people aboard had a range of the final fatality. Overall, the possibility of surviving is increasing, but there were different fluctuations each year.

Fatalities/Total amount of passengers Ratio by Year


From those charts, you can see that the total amount of air passengers has been increasing during the past decades, but the number of fatalities actually dropped, so in total, it is easy to see that, it’s safer to take airplanes nowadays than before.

The relationship between operators and types of airplanes

Total Count by Operator


The chart shows the top 15 companies of airplanes that had air crash. The Russian aircraft company-Aeroflot has the most accidents in all airlines. Besides, it is American companies that take up 8 out of 15 airlines, much more than the airlines from other countries. Based on the dataset, we did some research about the reason, from the information of Aviation Safty Network showing that most of the accidents are caused by weather conditions and poor operation, especially before the 90s. For example, when encountering bad weather such as turbulence and icing, planes should be not allowed to take off and should be delayed until the weather was wholesome.But Aeroflot failed to take weather into consideration and when accidents happened, the airline could not solute it skillfully, thus resulting in the high rate of accidents.


Total Count by type of airplane


Why DOUGLAS DC-3 (美国运输机) and DHC 6 rank top 2 in a high amount of air crash list?



DOUGLAS DC3 is a fixed-wing, propeller-driven passenger aircraft developed by Douglas Corporation. Its flight speed and distance has changed the air transportation industry in the 1930s and 40s. With long-lasting impact on the aviation industry and World War II, it became one of the most important transport aircraft.


DHC – 6

DHC-6 is a dual engine model developed by De Havilland Canada on the basis of the DHC-3 aircraft (codename: “Water Margin”). The aircraft has been designed since January 1964 and is aimed specifically at commercial operators who are required to be able to take off and land in short distances. The DHC-6 aircraft made its first flight on May 20, 1965, and the first aircraft was delivered to customers in July 1966. A total of 842 aircraft were delivered to this model.

Headmap of relationships with operator and type of airplanes


From this chart, we can see that different operators have different favor in their choice of airplanes, and different airplanes in different operators have different endings. Douglas DC – 3 are the choice of most of the operators, and The World War II is the most important triggers that made it one of the most important transporters ever. meanwhile, AEROFLOT is the most unlucky operators, several airplanes in this company including self-made have more accidents than other airplanes.

The land of tragedy


From this pictures, the top three locations that most accidents happened at, are Russia, Brazil, Alaska. Generally, the elements cause the air crash including weather, machine break-down, human-related. But for the specific reasons, we have no idea since we have not permission to get the black-box.

Airplane routes worldwide


From this map of the airline routes, it is easy to find that two routes have more accidents than others. From the US to Brazil and the US to the Mediterranean and the middle east. We have found that one reason attributes to more accidents when heading to Brazil is because the civil aviation industry in Latin America was born between the two world wars, which heavily relied on the surplus materials of the United Kingdom and the United States, lacking funds and technology. In addition to the financial crisis at the end of the last century, Latin American Airlines mainly focuses on low-cost airlines and small-sized flights, posing a higher risk of accidents.


Limitations and Weakness

  • There are flaws in data analysis methodology.
  • Without in-depth knowledge of history and airplanes.
  • the visualization part could be better.


Author/ Yucan Xu, Xiao Chao,  Jiang Ting, Tang Jiaping

Editor/ Yucan