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Are small planes and charter planes more likely to crash?

Robert F. Spohrer

The most dramatic aviation accidents with the most catastrophic fatalities make the national news. When commercial airlines have crashes that cost hundreds of people their lives, the whole world may temporarily care about the tragedy, if only for a few hours.

However, if you look at the number of crashes that occur every year and the number of fatalities reported in the aviation industry, you quickly realize that large commercial flights are responsible for only a portion of the total crashes and fatalities that occur.

Does that mean that smaller planes or charter flights are inherently more dangerous?

There may be less regulation around small planes and companies

A shocking number of small plane crashes involve planes not subject to any sort of maintenance and repair oversight. Overall, researchers estimate that small private planes are 32.9 times more likely to crash and charter planes are 9.4 times more likely to crash than commercial planes.

Commercial airlines have the infrastructure in place to inspect and repair their planes. Charter plane companies often have smaller fleets and may not have a dedicated service staff. The smaller the company is, the less they can likely invest in proactive maintenance for their fleet.

There is some risk any time that you travel by air, but companies can increase that risk through improper maintenance of their fleet or unsafe flight practices. Companies that allow people to charter planes may allow flights in situations that are unsafe or fail to properly train new staff members.

If bad maintenance or poor safety practices cause an accident, the people affected may have the right to take legal action. Identifying the underlying cause of an aviation accident can help you determine if you have grounds for an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the charter plane’s owner.