Washington, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board today released preliminary statistics for 2005 showing an overall increase in civil aviation accidents for both scheduled airline and general aviation operations.

U.S. civil aviation accidents increased from 1,717 in 2004 to 1,779 in 2005. However, total fatalities decreased from 636 to 600, and most of these occurred in general aviation and air taxi operations.

The increase in accidents is disappointing, said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker, but the decrease in total fatalities is a hopeful sign. Overall, it is clear that we need to maintain a strong focus on safety in all segments of the aviation community, he said.

General aviation accidents increased from 1,617 in 2004 to 1,669 in 2005. Of these, 321 were fatal accidents, up from 314 in 2004. The general aviation accident rate increased from 6.49 per 100,000 flight hours in 2004 to 6.83 in 2005. The fatal accident rate increased from 1.26 to 1.31. The number of fatalities rose slightly from 558 to 562.

In 2005, 32 accidents were recorded for Part 121 scheduled airline operations, including three that resulted in 22 fatalities. In June, the driver of a mobile belt baggage loader at Washington Reagan National Airport was fatally injured when the vehicle struck a US Airways Express EMB-170 being prepared for flight. In December, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 slid off the runway at Chicagos Midway Airport, went through a barrier fence and onto a roadway, killing a passenger in a passing automobile. Also in December, a Chalks Ocean Airways Grumman G73T experienced an in-flight breakup shortly after takeoff in Miami, resulting in 20 fatalities.

Air taxi operations reported 66 accidents in 2005, the same number as reported in 2004. The accident rate for this category showed a slight decrease from 2.04 per 100,000 flight hours in 2004 to 2.02 in 2005, with fatalities dropping markedly from 64 in 2004 to 18 in 2005.

Tables 1-12 providing additional statistics are available at: ntsb.gov/aviation/Stats.htm.