US small plane crash fatalities increased in 2018, NTSB says

Civil aviation fatalities rose from 347 in 2017 to 393 in 2018.

The number of people killed in plane crashes in the U.S. increased by about 13% in 2018, according to data released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Civil aviation fatalities rose from 347 in 2017 to 393 in 2018, NTSB officials said. The increase means that, on average, there was at least one aviation death per day in 2018.

The death toll included Jennifer Riordan, the first commercial airline passenger killed in the U.S. in nine years.

The overwhelming majority of aviation fatalities involve small, private airplanes, and not large commercial airliners. But on April 17, 2018, Riordan died on Southwest flight 1380 after shrapnel from the engine broke the window next to her seat and she was partially sucked out of the aircraft.

Other passengers pulled her back into the cabin and tried unsuccessfully to perform CPR.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are around three small plane crashes in the U.S. per day.

In 2018, 46 more people were killed in aviation accidents than year before, leading the fatal accident rate to rise above 1 per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in two years.

“It is disappointing to see the fatal general aviation accident rate increase after two years with the rate below 1 per 100,000 flight hours,” NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said in a statement.

NTSB officials said the statistics do not point to a specific reason for the increase in aviation fatalities, but that they are committed to addressing and highlighting any safety related issues.

On Tuesday the NTSB is expected to hold a board meeting to determine the probable cause of the engine failure that led to Riordan's death on Southwest flight 1380.