How many Boeing 737 crashes have there been since the year 2000?

A Boeing 737-800 crashed today in southern China, but it's not the only one.
Chris Young
Passenger jet airplane flying above clouds.bfk92/iStock

Passenger aircraft safety has improved dramatically since airliners first took to the skies in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, though, fatal crashes do still occasionally occur.

Today, news emerged that a Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to China's Eastern Airlines crashed into a mountainous region while flying from the city of Kunming to Guangzhou in southern China.

China has a strong aviation safety record

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft was carrying 133 passengers at the time, and rescue efforts are ongoing, with initial reports showing parts of the aircraft's broken hull on the ground.

The particular Boeing 737-800 used on the flight was six years old according to the Aviation Safety Network. The Boeing 737-800 is amongst the most common passenger planes in history and is not to be confused with the 737 Max, which was grounded after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 caused by design flaws.

China Eastern is one of China's three biggest airlines, alongside China Southern and Air China. According to Aljazeera News, China's aviation safety record has been among the world's best over the past decade. The last fatal plane accident in the country occurred in 2010 when 44 people out of 96 passengers were killed when an Embraer E-190 flown by Henan Airlines crashes due to poor visibility. Chinese state media has reported that China Eastern Airlines grounded all 737-800 planes following the crash.

How many Boeing 737 crashes have there been since 2000?

It's worth highlighting that aviation safety has greatly improved in recent years. The Boeing 737 first entered service in 1967. From the year 2000 onward, the number of reported incidents and casualties has decreased with each ensuing decade. 

In the first decade of the 2000s, there were a total of 31 reported incidents involving all variations of the Boeing 737, only four of which reported no fatalities. In the 2010s, there were 20 reported incidents, including the two Boeing 737 Max crashes. Of those 20 incidents, eight reported no loss of life. 

Now, the report of the Boeing 737-800 crashing in the mountains in southern China is the eighth Boeing 737 incident since 2020, one of which reported no fatalities.

As for airplanes in general, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the fatal accident rate in 2018 was 0.28 per 1 million flights, which is the equivalent of one fatal accident for every 4.2 million flights. Though tragic crashes do sadly occur, passenger aircraft are still the safest form of long-distance travel.

Initial reports from the Boeing 737-800, unfortunately, seem to suggest that it is very unlikely rescue teams will find survivors. The aircraft reportedly caused a forest fire after it descended sharply and then went down in the mountainous region of southern China. Investigators are now looking to recover the flight data recorder from the cockpit voice recorder to attain more information regarding the cause of the crash.

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