Thousands of flights depart the US every day and have completely uneventful journeys to their destination.

However, on the rare occasions where things go wrong, the size and speed of airplanes can lead to very serious situations.

As a result, being a pilot or a flight engineer is still classed as one of America’s most dangerous jobs.


The most recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed in 2019 there were 85 deaths, which is 60 fatal injuries for every 100,000 workers.

The average salary for these job roles is $137,330, which would attract many people.

Previous statistics show in 2018 there was a total of 70 deaths and for every 100,000 workers, there were 53 fatal injuries. 

Why is being a pilot or aircraft engineer so dangerous?

Most of these deaths and injuries were caused by transportation accidents.

The main role of an aircraft pilot says it in the name, they fly and navigate airplanes and helicopters whether it be for getting goods across the world or getting passengers to their next holiday destination. 

Pilots have to ensure the aircraft conditions are safe before take-off.

For example they need to check the fuel tank is full, and the system is all as it should be.

Unfortunately sometimes we humans make errors that cost lives or even our computer systems can be the error that causes these deaths.

One extraordinary story happened in 2010 when a crocodile – Yes, a crocodile – was the cause of an airplane crashing and the majority dying. However, one survivor was able to reveal what happened.

This didn’t happen in the US, but in fact the African country of the Democratic Republic Of Congo.

A plane was described as falling out of the sky ‘like a leaf’.

According to the survivor, a small crocodile, only a few feet long, came out from a holdall when the plane was landing. 

It caused a stampede of frightened passengers to the cockpit, and the sudden weight change destabilized the plane, causing it to crash.

Having animals on flights is normal in this part of the world but it’s usually animals like chickens or dogs – a crocodile certainly wasn’t expected.

The US statistics reveal the majority of aircraft pilot deaths happen in crashes of privately owned planes and helicopters, rather than commercial aircraft.

What are the chances of being in a plane crash?


Flightglobal reported the amount of worldwide air crashes more than halved in 2021 to just 15, with 134 deaths.

There was only one fatal accident involving a large passenger jet: a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500, which crashed in Indonesia.

All 61 people on board died in the crash in January.

A probably factor in the reduction is that massive drop in the number of flights due to the Covid pandemic.

According to scientists at Nova, the chances of being killed in an air crash in the US is one in 11 million, compared to the fair higher one in 5,000 chance of being killed in a car accident.

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